Pseudomonas aeruginosa is capable of natural transformation in biofilms.
ABSTRACT: Natural transformation is a mechanism that enables competent bacteria to acquire naked, exogenous DNA from the environment. It is a key process that facilitates the dissemination of antibiotic resistance and virulence determinants throughout bacterial populations. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic Gram-negative pathogen that produces large quantities of extracellular DNA (eDNA) that is required for biofilm formation. P. aeruginosa has a remarkable level of genome plasticity and diversity that suggests a high degree of horizontal gene transfer and recombination but is thought to be incapable of natural transformation. Here we show that P. aeruginosa possesses homologues of all proteins known to be involved in natural transformation in other bacterial species. We found that P. aeruginosa in biofilms is competent for natural transformation of both genomic and plasmid DNA. Furthermore, we demonstrate that type-IV pili (T4P) facilitate but are not absolutely essential for natural transformation in P. aeruginosa.
Project description:The success of S. pneumoniae as a major human pathogen is largely due to its remarkable genomic plasticity, allowing efficient escape from antimicrobials action and host immune response. Natural transformation, or the active uptake and chromosomal integration of exogenous DNA during the transitory differentiated state competence, is the main mechanism for horizontal gene transfer and genomic makeover in pneumococci. Although transforming DNA has been proposed to be captured by Type 4 pili (T4P) in Gram-negative bacteria, and a competence-inducible comG operon encoding proteins homologous to T4P-biogenesis components is present in transformable Gram-positive bacteria, a prevailing hypothesis has been that S. pneumoniae assembles only short pseudopili to destabilize the cell wall for DNA entry. We recently identified a micrometer-sized T4P-like pilus on competent pneumococci, which likely serves as initial DNA receptor. A subsequent study, however, visualized a different structure--short, 'plaited' polymers--released in the medium of competent S. pneumoniae. Biochemical observation of concurrent pilin secretion led the authors to propose that the 'plaited' structures correspond to transformation pili acting as peptidoglycan drills that leave DNA entry pores upon secretion. Here we show that the 'plaited' filaments are not related to natural transformation as they are released by non-competent pneumococci, as well as by cells with disrupted pilus biogenesis components. Combining electron microscopy visualization with structural, biochemical and proteomic analyses, we further identify the 'plaited' polymers as spirosomes: macromolecular assemblies of the fermentative acetaldehyde-alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme AdhE that is well conserved in a broad range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
Project description:Secretins are versatile outer membrane pores used by many bacteria to secrete proteins, toxins, or filamentous phages; extrude type IV pili (T4P); or take up DNA. Extrusion of T4P and natural transformation of DNA in the thermophilic bacterium Thermus thermophilus requires a unique secretin complex comprising six stacked rings, a membrane-embedded cone structure, and two gates that open and close a central channel. To investigate the role of distinct domains in ring and gate formation, we examined a set of deletion derivatives by cryomicroscopy techniques. Here we report that maintaining the N0 ring in the deletion derivatives led to stable PilQ complexes. Analyses of the variants unraveled that an N-terminal domain comprising a unique ????? fold is essential for the formation of gate 2. Furthermore, we identified four ????? domains essential for the formation of the N2 to N5 rings. Mutant studies revealed that deletion of individual ring domains significantly reduces piliation. The N1, N2, N4, and N5 deletion mutants were significantly impaired in T4P-mediated twitching motility, whereas the motility of the N3 mutant was comparable with that of wild-type cells. This indicates that the deletion of the N3 ring leads to increased pilus dynamics, thereby compensating for the reduced number of pili of the N3 mutant. All mutants exhibit a wild-type natural transformation phenotype, leading to the conclusion that DNA uptake is independent of functional T4P.
Project description:Bacterial motilities participate in biofilm development. However, it is unknown how/if bacterial motility affects formation of the biofilm matrix. Psl polysaccharide is a key biofilm matrix component of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Here we report that type IV pili (T4P)-mediated bacterial migration leads to the formation of a fibre-like Psl matrix. Deletion of T4P in wild type and flagella-deficient strains results in loss of the Psl-fibres and reduction of biofilm biomass in flow cell biofilms as well as pellicles at air-liquid interface. Bacteria lacking T4P-driven twitching motility including those that still express surface T4P are unable to form the Psl-fibres. Formation of a Psl-fibre matrix is critical for efficient biofilm formation, yet does not require flagella and polysaccharide Pel or alginate. The Psl-fibres are likely formed by Psl released from bacteria during T4P-mediated migration, a strategy similar to spider web formation. Starvation can couple Psl release and T4P-driven twitching motility. Furthermore, a radial-pattern Psl-fibre matrix is present in the middle of biofilms, a nutrient-deprived region. These imply a plausible model for how bacteria respond to nutrient-limited local environment to build a polysaccharide-fibre matrix by T4P-dependent bacterial migration strategy. This strategy may have general significance for bacterial survival in natural and clinical settings.
Project description:Pseudomonas stutzeri lives in terrestrial and aquatic habitats and is capable of natural genetic transformation. After transposon mutagenesis, transformation-deficient mutants were isolated from a P. stutzeri JM300 strain. In one of them a gene which coded for a protein with 75% amino acid sequence identity to PilC of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an accessory protein for type IV pilus biogenesis, was inactivated. The presence of type IV pili was demonstrated by susceptibility to the type IV pilus-dependent phage PO4, by occurrence of twitching motility, and by electron microscopy. The pilC mutant had no pili and was defective in twitching motility. Further sequencing revealed that pilC is clustered in an operon with genes homologous to pilB and pilD of P. aeruginosa, which are also involved in pilus formation. Next to these genes but transcribed in the opposite orientation a pilA gene encoding a protein with high amino acid sequence identity to pilin, the structural component of type IV pili, was identified. Insertional inactivation of pilA abolished pilus formation, PO4 plating, twitching motility, and natural transformation. The amounts of (3)H-labeled P. stutzeri DNA that were bound to competent parental cells and taken up were strongly reduced in the pilC and pilA mutants. Remarkably, the cloned pilA genes from nontransformable organisms like Dichelobacter nodosus and the PAK and PAO strains of P. aeruginosa fully restored pilus formation and transformability of the P. stutzeri pilA mutant (along with PO4 plating and twitching motility). It is concluded that the type IV pili of the soil bacterium P. stutzeri function in DNA uptake for transformation and that their role in this process is not confined to the species-specific pilin.
Project description:How bacteria colonize surfaces and how they distinguish the individuals around them are fundamental biological questions. Type IV pili are a widespread and multipurpose class of cell surface polymers. Here we directly visualize the DNA-uptake pilus of Vibrio cholerae, which is produced specifically during growth on its natural habitat-chitinous surfaces. As predicted, these pili are highly dynamic and retract before DNA uptake during competence for natural transformation. Interestingly, DNA-uptake pili can also self-interact to mediate auto-aggregation. This capability is conserved in disease-causing pandemic strains, which typically encode the same major pilin subunit, PilA. Unexpectedly, however, we discovered that extensive strain-to-strain variability in PilA (present in environmental isolates) creates a set of highly specific interactions, enabling cells producing pili composed of different PilA subunits to distinguish between one another. We go on to show that DNA-uptake pili bind to chitinous surfaces and are required for chitin colonization under flow, and that pili capable of self-interaction connect cells on chitin within dense pili networks. Our results suggest a model whereby DNA-uptake pili function to promote inter-bacterial interactions during surface colonization. Moreover, they provide evidence that type IV pili could offer a simple and potentially widespread mechanism for bacterial kin recognition.
Project description:Type IVa pili (T4P) are bacterial surface structures that enable motility, adhesion, biofilm formation and virulence. T4P are assembled by nanomachines that span the bacterial cell envelope. Cycles of T4P assembly and retraction, powered by the ATPases PilB and PilT, allow bacteria to attach to and pull themselves along surfaces, so-called "twitching motility". These opposing ATPase activities must be coordinated and T4P assembly limited to one pole for bacteria to show directional movement. How this occurs is still incompletely understood. Herein, we show that the c-di-GMP binding protein FimX, which is required for T4P assembly in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, localizes to the leading pole of twitching bacteria. Polar FimX localization requires both the presence of T4P assembly machine proteins and the assembly ATPase PilB. PilB itself loses its polar localization pattern when FimX is absent. We use two different approaches to confirm that FimX and PilB interact in vivo and in vitro, and further show that point mutant alleles of FimX that do not bind c-di-GMP also do not interact with PilB. Lastly, we demonstrate that FimX positively regulates T4P assembly and twitching motility by promoting the activity of the PilB ATPase, and not by stabilizing assembled pili or by preventing PilT-mediated retraction. Mutated alleles of FimX that no longer bind c-di-GMP do not allow rapid T4P assembly in these assays. We propose that by virtue of its high-affinity for c-di-GMP, FimX can promote T4P assembly when intracellular levels of this cyclic nucleotide are low. As P. aeruginosa PilB is not itself a high-affinity c-di-GMP receptor, unlike many other assembly ATPases, FimX may play a key role in coupling T4P mediated motility and adhesion to levels of this second messenger.
Project description:Type IV pili (T4P) are dynamic protein filaments that mediate bacterial adhesion, biofilm formation, and twitching motility. The highly conserved PilMNOP proteins form an inner membrane alignment subcomplex required for function of the T4P system, though their exact roles are unclear. Three potential interaction interfaces for PilNO were identified: core-core, coiled coils (CC), and the transmembrane segments (TMSs). A high-confidence PilNO heterodimer model was used to select key residues for mutation, and the resulting effects on protein-protein interactions were examined both in a bacterial two-hybrid (BTH) system and in their native Pseudomonas aeruginosa context. Mutations in the oppositely charged CC regions or the TMS disrupted PilNO heterodimer formation in the BTH assay, while up to six combined mutations in the core failed to disrupt the interaction. When the mutations were introduced into the P. aeruginosa chromosome at the pilN or pilO locus, specific changes at each of the three interfaces--including core mutations that failed to disrupt interactions in the BTH system--abrogated surface piliation and/or impaired twitching motility. Unexpectedly, specific CC mutants were hyperpiliated but nonmotile, a hallmark of pilus retraction defects. These data suggest that PilNO participate in both the extension and retraction of T4P. Our findings support a model of multiple, precise interaction interfaces between PilNO; emphasize the importance of studying protein function in a minimally perturbed context and stoichiometry; and highlight potential target sites for development of small-molecule inhibitors of the T4P system.Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that uses type IV pili (T4P) for host attachment. The T4P machinery is composed of four cell envelope-spanning subcomplexes. PilN and PilO heterodimers are part of the alignment subcomplex and essential for T4P function. Three potential PilNO interaction interfaces (the core-core, coiled-coil, and transmembrane segment interfaces) were probed using site-directed mutagenesis followed by functional assays in an Escherichia coli two-hybrid system and in P. aeruginosa. Several mutations blocked T4P assembly and/or motility, including two that revealed a novel role for PilNO in pilus retraction, while other mutations affected extension dynamics. These critical PilNO interaction interfaces represent novel targets for small-molecule inhibitors with the potential to disrupt T4P function.
Project description:For Pseudomonas aeruginosa, levels of cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP) govern the transition from the planktonic state to biofilm formation. Type IV pili (T4P) are crucial determinants of biofilm structure and dynamics, but it is unknown how levels of c-di-GMP affect pilus dynamics. Here, we scrutinized how c-di-GMP affects molecular motor properties and adhesive behavior of T4P. By means of retraction, T4P generated forces of ?30 pN. Deletion mutants in the proteins with known roles in biofilm formation, swarming motility, and exopolysaccharide (EPS) production (specifically, the diguanylate cyclases sadC and roeA or the c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase bifA) showed only modest effects on velocity or force of T4P retraction. At high levels of c-di-GMP, the production of exopolysaccharides, particularly of Pel, is upregulated. We found that Pel production strongly enhances T4P-mediated surface adhesion of P. aeruginosa, suggesting that T4P-matrix interactions may be involved in biofilm formation by P. aeruginosa Finally, our data support the previously proposed model of slingshot-like "twitching" motility of P. aeruginosaIMPORTANCE Type IV pili (T4P) play various important roles in the transition of bacteria from the planktonic state to the biofilm state, including surface attachment and surface sensing. Here, we investigate adhesion, dynamics, and force generation of T4P after bacteria engage a surface. Our studies showed that two critical components of biofilm formation by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, T4P and exopolysaccharides, contribute to enhanced T4P-mediated force generation by attached bacteria. These data indicate a crucial role for the coordinated impact of multiple biofilm-promoting factors during the early stages of attachment to a surface. Our data are also consistent with a previous model explaining why pilus-mediated motility in P. aeruginosa results in characteristic "twitching" behavior.
Project description:Several bacterial pathogens require the "twitching" motility produced by filamentous type IV pili (T4P) to establish and maintain human infections. Two cytoplasmic ATPases function as an oscillatory motor that powers twitching motility via cycles of pilus extension and retraction. The regulation of this motor, however, has remained a mystery. We present the 2.1 A resolution crystal structure of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa pilus-biogenesis factor PilY1, and identify a single site on this protein required for bacterial translocation. The structure reveals a modified beta-propeller fold and a distinct EF-hand-like calcium-binding site conserved in pathogens with retractile T4P. We show that preventing calcium binding by PilY1 using either an exogenous calcium chelator or mutation of a single residue disrupts Pseudomonas twitching motility by eliminating surface pili. In contrast, placing a lysine in this site to mimic the charge of a bound calcium interferes with motility in the opposite manner--by producing an abundance of nonfunctional surface pili. Our data indicate that calcium binding and release by the unique loop identified in the PilY1 crystal structure controls the opposing forces of pilus extension and retraction. Thus, PilY1 is an essential, calcium-dependent regulator of bacterial twitching motility.
Project description:Type IV pili (T4P) are polar surface structures that play important roles in bacterial motility, biofilm formation, and pathogenicity. The protein FimX and its orthologs are known to mediate T4P formation in the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and some other bacterial species. It was reported recently that FimX(XAC2398) from Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri interacts with PilZ(XAC1133) directly through the nonenzymatic EAL domain of FimX(XAC2398). Here we present experimental data to reveal that the strong interaction between FimX(XAC2398) and PilZ(XAC1133) is not conserved in P. aeruginosa and likely other Pseudomonas species. In vitro and in vivo binding experiments showed that the interaction between FimX and PilZ in P. aeruginosa is below the measurable limit. Surface plasmon resonance assays further confirmed that the interaction between the P. aeruginosa proteins is at least more than 3 orders of magnitude weaker than that between the X. axonopodis pv. citri pair. The N-terminal lobe region of FimX(XAC2398) was identified as the binding surface for PilZ(XAC1133) by amide hydrogen-deuterium exchange and site-directed mutagenesis studies. Lack of several key residues in the N-terminal lobe region of the EAL domain of FimX is likely to account for the greatly reduced binding affinity between FimX and PilZ in P. aeruginosa. All together, the results suggest that the interaction between PilZ and FimX in Xanthomonas species is not conserved in P. aeruginosa due to the evolutionary divergence among the FimX orthologs. The precise roles of FimX and PilZ in bacterial motility and T4P biogenesis are likely to vary among bacterial species.