Rapid Accumulation of Motility-Activating Mutations in Resting Liquid Culture of Escherichia coli.
ABSTRACT: Expression of motility genes is a potentially beneficial but costly process in bacteria. Interestingly, many isolate strains of Escherichia coli possess motility genes but have lost the ability to activate them under conditions in which motility is advantageous, raising the question of how they respond to these situations. Through transcriptome profiling of strains in the E. coli single-gene knockout Keio collection, we noticed drastic upregulation of motility genes in many of the deletion strains compared to levels in their weakly motile parent strain (BW25113). We show that this switch to a motile phenotype is not a direct consequence of the genes deleted but is instead due to a variety of secondary mutations that increase the expression of the major motility regulator, FlhDC. Importantly, we find that this switch can be reproduced by growing poorly motile E. coli strains in nonshaking liquid medium overnight but not in shaking liquid medium. Individual isolates after the nonshaking overnight incubations acquired distinct mutations upstream of the flhDC operon, including different insertion sequence (IS) elements and, to a lesser extent, point mutations. The rapidity with which genetic changes sweep through the populations grown without shaking shows that poorly motile strains can quickly adapt to a motile lifestyle by genetic rewiring.IMPORTANCE The ability to tune gene expression in times of need outside preordained regulatory networks is an essential evolutionary process that allows organisms to survive and compete. Here, we show that upon overnight incubation in liquid medium without shaking, populations of largely nonmotile Escherichia coli bacteria can rapidly accumulate mutants that have constitutive motility. This effect contributes to widespread secondary mutations in the single-gene knockout library, the Keio collection. As a result, 49/71 (69%) of the Keio strains tested exhibited various degrees of motility, whereas their parental strain is poorly motile. These observations highlight the plasticity of gene expression even in the absence of preexisting regulatory programs and should raise awareness of procedures for handling laboratory strains of E. coli.
Project description:Expression and use of motility genes is a potentially beneficial but costly process in bacteria. Interestingly, many isolate strains of Escherichia coli possess motility genes but have lost the ability to activate them in conditions in which motile cells are advantageous, raising the question of how they respond to these situations. Through transcriptome profiling of strains in the E. coli single-gene knockout Keio collection, we noticed drastic upregulation of motility genes in many of the deletion strains as compared to its typically non-motile parent strain (BW25113). This switch to a motile phenotype is not a direct consequence of the genes deleted, but is instead due to a variety of secondary mutations that increase the synthesis of the major motility regulator, FlhDC. We found that a phenotypic switch to motility at a population level can be induced in non-motile E. coli strains by incubation in non-shaking liquid medium overnight but not in shaking media. Individual isolates after the overnight incubation acquired distinct mutations upstream of the flhDC operon, including different insertion sequence (IS) elements and, to a lesser extent, point mutations. The rapid sweep in the non-shaking population shows that non-motile strains without existing regulatory mechanisms can quickly adapt to a motile lifestyle by quickly acquired genetic changes. Overall design: 71 RNA-seq experiments on knockout strains from the Keio E. coli knockout collection grown in MOPS Minimal liquid media
Project description:Bacterial motility shows a strong evolvable feature depending on the environment. Hyper-motile E. coli could be isolated by evolving non-motile E. coli due to the mutations that enhanced transcriptional expression of the master regulator of the flagellum biosynthesis, FlhDC. These hyper-motile isolates showed reduced growth fitness but with the molecular mechanisms unrevealed. Here we obtained a novel type of hyper-motile isolates by evolving a weakly-motile E. coli K12 strain on the soft agar plates. These isolates carried high accumulated FlhDC proteins and they shared one single point mutation of ClpXV78F. The V78F affected the ATP binding to ClpX via steric repulsive effect and the mutated ClpXP protease lost most of its ability to degraded FlhDC and some other of its known targets. The signal tag of FlhDC for ClpXP recognition was also characterized. Intriguingly, in the hyper-motile strains, the highly enhanced expression of the motility genes was accompanied by the reduced expression of stress resistance genes relating to the reduced fitness of these isolates. Hence, ClpX appeared to be a novel and hot locus during the evolution of bacterial motility and the molecular mechanism of the trade-off between motility and growth was proposed for the first time. Overall design: Determination of gene expression in the wild type strain CY598 and its derivates CY706 (spontaneous clpX-V78F mutant), CY708 (spontaneous clpX-V78F mutant), CY1102 (manipulated clpX-V78F mutant), CY1166 (the CY708 strain with a wild-type clpX), and CY1179 (manipulated ∆clpX mutant).
Project description:Bacterial motility shows a strong evolvable feature depending on the environment. Hyper-motile E. coli could be isolated by evolving non-motile E. coli due to the mutations that enhanced transcriptional expression of the master regulator of the flagellum biosynthesis, FlhDC. These hyper-motile isolates showed reduced growth fitness but with the molecular mechanisms unrevealed. Here we obtained a novel type of hyper-motile isolates by evolving a weakly-motile E. coli K12 strain on the soft agar plates. These isolates carried high accumulated FlhDC proteins and they shared one single point mutation of ClpXV78F. The V78F affected the ATP binding to ClpX via steric repulsive effect and the mutated ClpXP protease lost most of its ability to degraded FlhDC and some other of its known targets. The signal tag of FlhDC for ClpXP recognition was also characterized. Intriguingly, in the hyper-motile strains, the highly enhanced expression of the motility genes was accompanied by the reduced expression of stress resistance genes relating to the reduced fitness of these isolates. Hence, ClpX appeared to be a novel and hot locus during the evolution of bacterial motility and the molecular mechanism of the trade-off between motility and growth was proposed for the first time.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>Motility is a beneficial attribute that enables cells to access and explore new environments and to escape detrimental ones. The organelle of motility in Escherichia coli is the flagellum, and its production is initiated by the activating transcription factors FlhD and FlhC. The expression of these factors by the flhDC operon is highly regulated and influenced by environmental conditions. The flhDC promoter is recognized by ?(70) and is dependent on the transcriptional activator cyclic AMP (cAMP)-cAMP receptor protein complex (cAMP-CRP). A number of K-12 strains exhibit limited motility due to low expression levels of flhDC. We report here a large number of mutations that stimulate flhDC expression in such strains. They include single nucleotide changes in the -10 element of the promoter, in the promoter spacer, and in the cAMP-CRP binding region. In addition, we show that insertion sequence (IS) elements or a kanamycin gene located hundreds of base pairs upstream of the promoter can effectively enhance transcription, suggesting that the topology of a large upstream region plays a significant role in the regulation of flhDC expression. None of the mutations eliminated the requirement for cAMP-CRP for activation. However, several mutations allowed expression in the absence of the nucleoid organizing protein, H-NS, which is normally required for flhDC expression.<h4>Importance</h4>The flhDC operon of Escherichia coli encodes transcription factors that initiate flagellar synthesis, an energetically costly process that is highly regulated. Few deregulating mutations have been reported thus far. This paper describes new single nucleotide mutations that stimulate flhDC expression, including a number that map to the promoter spacer region. In addition, this work shows that insertion sequence elements or a kanamycin gene located far upstream from the promoter or repressor binding sites also stimulate transcription, indicating a role of regional topology in the regulation of flhDC expression.
Project description:Substrains in Escherichia coli K-12 MG1655 can possess various swimming motility, which is mostly resulted from different expression levels of flhDC. Here, we studied the swimming motility of two MG1655 substrains, CY562 and CY570. Our results showed that CY562 had no insertion at the promoter region of flhDC and possessed no swimming motility. In contrast, CY570 had an IS-element insertion at the promoter region of flhDC and showed a hyper-motile phenotype. Transcriptomic data suggest that expression of flhDC and the other known flagella genes was much lower in CY562 than that in CY570. Moreover, CY562 possessed higher expression levels for genes involved in stress response, especially acid-stress response, than CY570. Consistently, CY562 showed a higher survival rate under acid stress than CY570. Our data indicate that there are mechanisms conversely regulating motility and stress response in E. coli. Overall design: Determination of gene expression in E. coli K-12 MG1655 substrains CY562 and CY570. Please note that each processed data file was generated from both replicates and is linked to the corresponding *-1 sample records.
Project description:Mutation rates may be influenced by the environment. Here, we demonstrate that insertion sequence IS5 in Escherichia coli inserts into the upstream region of the flhDC operon in a manner that depends on whether the environment permits motility; this operon encodes the master regulator of cell motility, FlhDC, and the IS5 insertion increases motility. IS5 inserts upstream of flhD(+) when cells are grown on soft-agar plates that permit swimming motility, but does not insert upstream of this locus on hard-agar plates that do not permit swimming motility or in planktonic cultures. Furthermore, there was only one IS5 insertion event on soft-agar plates, indicating insertion of IS5 into flhDC is not due to general elevated IS5 transposition throughout the whole genome. We also show that the highly motile cells with IS5 upstream of flhD(+) have greater biofilm formation, although there is a growth cost due to the energetic burden of the enhanced motility as these highly motile cells have a lower yield in rich medium and reduced growth rate. Functional flagella are required for IS5 insertion upstream of flhD(+) as there was no IS5 insertion upstream of flhD(+) for flhD, flgK and motA mutants, and the mutation is stable. Additionally, the IS5 mutation occurs during biofilm formation, which creates genetic and phenotypic diversity. Hence, the cells appear to 'sense' whether motility is feasible before a sub-population undergoes a mutation to become hypermotile; this sensing appears related to the master transcription regulator, FlhDC.
Project description:Bacterial flagellar motility and chemotaxis help cells to reach the most favorable environments and to successfully compete with other micro-organisms in response to external stimuli. Escherichia coli is a motile gram-negative bacterium, and the flagellar regulon in E. coli is controlled by a master regulator FlhDC as well as a second regulator, flagellum-specific sigma factor, sigma(F). To define the physiological role of these two regulators, we carried out transcription profiling experiments to identify, on a genome-wide basis, genes under the control of these two regulators. In addition, the synchronized pattern of increasing CRP activity causing increasing FlhDC expression with decreasing carbon source quality, together with the apparent coupling of motility activity with the activation of motility and chemotaxis genes in poor quality carbon sources, highlights the importance of CRP activation in allowing E. coli to devote progressively more of its limited reserves to search out better conditions. In adaptation to a variety of carbon sources, the motile bacteria carry out tactical responses by increasing flagellar operation but restricting costly flagellar synthesis, indicating its capability of strategically using the precious energy in nutrient-poor environments for maximizing survival.
Project description:A number of investigations of Escherichia coli have suggested that the DNA-binding protein H-NS, in addition to its well-known functions in chromosome organization and gene regulation, interacts directly with the flagellar motor to modulate its function. Here, in a study initially aimed at characterizing the H-NS/motor interaction further, we identify problems and limitations in the previous work that substantially weaken the case for a direct H-NS/motor interaction. Null hns mutants are immotile, largely owing to the downregulation of the flagellar master regulators FlhD and FlhC. We, and others, previously reported that an hns mutant remains poorly motile even when FlhDC are expressed constitutively. In the present work, we use better-engineered strains to show that the motility defect in a ?hns, FlhDC-constitutive strain is milder than that reported previously and does not point to a direct action of H-NS at the motor. H-NS regulates numerous genes and might influence motility via a number of regulatory molecules besides FlhDC. To examine the sources of the motility defect that persists in an FlhDC-constitutive ?hns mutant, we measured transcript levels and overexpression effects of a number of genes in candidate regulatory pathways. The results indicate that H-NS influences motility via multiple regulatory linkages that include, minimally, the messenger molecule cyclic di-GMP, the biofilm regulatory protein CsgD, and the sigma factors ?(S) and ?(F). The results are in accordance with the more standard view of H-NS as a regulator of gene expression rather than a direct modulator of flagellar motor performance.Data from a number of previous studies have been taken to indicate that the nucleoid-organizing protein H-NS influences motility not only by its well-known DNA-based mechanisms but also by binding directly to the flagellar motor to alter function. In this study, H-NS is shown to influence motility through diverse regulatory pathways, but a direct interaction with the motor is not supported. Previous indications of a direct action at the motor appear to be related to the use of nonnull strains and, in some cases, a failure to effectively bypass the requirement for H-NS in the expression of the flagellar regulon. These findings call for a substantially revised interpretation of the literature concerning H-NS and flagellar motility and highlight the importance of H-NS in diverse regulatory processes involved in the motile-sessile transition.
Project description:Xenorhabdus is a major insect pathogen symbiotically associated with nematodes of the family Steinernematidae. This motile bacterium displays swarming behavior on suitable media, but a spontaneous loss of motility is observed as part of a phenomenon designated phase variation which involves the loss of stationary-phase products active as antibiotics and potential virulence factors. To investigate the role of one of the transcriptional activators of flagellar genes, FlhDC, in motility and virulence, the Xenorhabdus nematophilus flhDC locus was identified by functional complementation of an Escherichia coli flhD null mutant and DNA sequencing. Construction of X. nematophilus flhD null mutants confirmed that the flhDC operon controls flagellin expression but also revealed that lipolytic and extracellular hemolysin activity is flhDC dependent. We also showed that the flhD null mutant displayed a slightly attenuated virulence phenotype in Spodoptera littoralis compared to that of the wild-type strain. Thus, these data indicated that motility, lipase, hemolysin, or unknown functions controlled by the flhDC operon are involved in the infectious process in insects. Our investigation expands the view of the flagellar regulon as a checkpoint coupled to a major network involving bacterial physiological aspects as well as motility.
Project description:Yersinia pseudotuberculosis forms biofilms on Caenorhabditis elegans which block nematode feeding. This genetically amenable host-pathogen model has important implications for biofilm development on living, motile surfaces. Here we show that Y. pseudotuberculosis biofilm development on C. elegans is governed by N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)-mediated quorum sensing (QS) since (i) AHLs are produced in nematode associated biofilms and (ii) Y. pseudotuberculosis strains expressing an AHL-degrading enzyme or in which the AHL synthase (ypsI and ytbI) or response regulator (ypsR and ytbR) genes have been mutated, are attenuated. Although biofilm formation is also attenuated in Y. pseudotuberculosis strains carrying mutations in the QS-controlled motility regulator genes, flhDC and fliA, and the flagellin export gene, flhA, flagella are not required since fliC mutants form normal biofilms. However, in contrast to the parent and fliC mutant, Yop virulon proteins are up-regulated in flhDC, fliA and flhA mutants in a temperature and calcium independent manner. Similar observations were found for the Y. pseudotuberculosis QS mutants, indicating that the Yop virulon is repressed by QS via the master motility regulator, flhDC. By curing the pYV virulence plasmid from the ypsI/ytbI mutant, by growing YpIII under conditions permissive for type III needle formation but not Yop secretion and by mutating the type III secretion apparatus gene, yscJ, we show that biofilm formation can be restored in flhDC and ypsI/ytbI mutants. These data demonstrate that type III secretion blocks biofilm formation and is reciprocally regulated with motility via QS.