• Recombinant protein production-associated metabolic burden reflects anabolic constraints and reveals similarities to a carbon overfeeding response.

      Li, Zhaopeng; Rinas, Ursula; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley, 2020-09-03)
      A comparison of the metabolic response of Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3) towards the production of human basic fibroblast growth factor (hFGF-2) or towards carbon overfeeding revealed similarities which point to constraints in anabolic pathways. Contrary to expectations, neither energy generation (e.g., ATP) nor provision of precursor molecules for nucleotides (e.g., uracil) and amino acids (e.g., pyruvate, glutamate) limit host cell and plasmid-encoded functions. Growth inhibition is assumed to occur when hampered anabolic capacities do not match with the ongoing and overwhelming carbon catabolism. Excessive carbon uptake leads to by-product secretion, for example, pyruvate, acetate, glutamate, and energy spillage, for example, accumulation and degradation of adenine nucleotides with concomitant accumulation of extracellular hypoxanthine. The cellular response towards compromised anabolic capacities involves downregulation of cAMP formation, presumably responsible for subsequently better-controlled glucose uptake and resultant accumulation of glucose in the culture medium. Growth inhibition is neglectable under conditions of reduced carbon availability when hampered anabolic capacities also match with catabolic carbon processing. The growth inhibitory effect with accompanying energy spillage, respectively, hypoxanthine secretion and cessation of cAMP formation is not unique to the production of hFGF-2 but observed during the production of other proteins and also during overexpression of genes without transcript translation.
    • RNase Y-mediated regulation of the streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B.

      Broglia, Laura; Materne, Solange; Lécrivain, Anne-Laure; Hahnke, Karin; Le Rhun, Anaïs; Charpentier, Emmanuelle; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-01)
      Endoribonuclease Y (RNase Y) is a crucial regulator of virulence in Gram-positive bacteria. In the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes, RNase Y is required for the expression of the major secreted virulence factor streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B (SpeB), but the mechanism involved in this regulation remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate that the 5' untranslated region of speB mRNA is processed by several RNases including RNase Y. In particular, we identify two RNase Y cleavage sites located downstream of a guanosine (G) residue. To assess whether this nucleotide is required for RNase Y activity in vivo, we mutated it and demonstrate that the presence of this G residue is essential for the processing of the speB mRNA 5' UTR by RNase Y. Although RNase Y directly targets and processes speB, we show that RNase Y-mediated regulation of speB expression occurs primarily at the transcriptional level and independently of the processing in the speB mRNA 5' UTR. To conclude, we demonstrate for the first time that RNase Y processing of an mRNA target requires the presence of a G. We also provide new insights on the speB 5' UTR and on the role of RNase Y in speB regulation.
    • RovC - a novel type of hexameric transcriptional activator promoting type VI secretion gene expression.

      Knittel, Vanessa; Sadana, Pooja; Seekircher, Stephanie; Stolle, Anne-Sophie; Körner, Britta; Volk, Marcel; Jeffries, Cy M; Svergun, Dmitri I; Heroven, Ann Kathrin; Scrima, Andrea; et al. (PLOS, 2020-09-23)
      Type VI secretion systems (T6SSs) are complex macromolecular injection machines which are widespread in Gram-negative bacteria. They are involved in host-cell interactions and pathogenesis, required to eliminate competing bacteria, or are important for the adaptation to environmental stress conditions. Here we identified regulatory elements controlling the T6SS4 of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and found a novel type of hexameric transcription factor, RovC. RovC directly interacts with the T6SS4 promoter region and activates T6SS4 transcription alone or in cooperation with the LysR-type regulator RovM. A higher complexity of regulation was achieved by the nutrient-responsive global regulator CsrA, which controls rovC expression on the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level. In summary, our work unveils a central mechanism in which RovC, a novel key activator, orchestrates the expression of the T6SS weapons together with a global regulator to deploy the system in response to the availability of nutrients in the species' native environment.
    • Soluble immune markers in the different phases of chronic hepatitis B virus infection

      Wiegand, Steffen B.; Beggel, Bastian; Wranke, Anika; Aliabadi, Elmira; Jaroszewicz, Jerzy; Xu, Cheng Jian; Li, Yang; Manns, Michael P.; Lengauer, Thomas; Wedemeyer, Heiner; et al. (Nature publishing group, 2019-10-01)
      Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection may follow four different consecutive phases, which are defined by virology as well as biochemical markers and differ in terms of prognosis and need for antiviral treatment. Currently, host responses reflected by immune markers are not considered in this definition. We aimed to study soluble immune markers and their distribution in different phases of chronic HBV infection. In this cross-sectional retrospective study, we investigated a panel of 14 soluble immune markers (SIM) including CXCL10 in 333 patients with chronic HBV infection. In a small cohort of HBeAg positive patients we analyzed SIM before and after HBeAg seroconversion and compared seroconverters to patients with unknown outcome. Significant differences were documented in the levels of several SIM between the four phases of chronic HBV infection. The most pronounced difference among all investigated SIM was observed for CXCL10 concentrations with highest levels in patients with hepatitis. TGF-β and IL-17 revealed different levels between HBeAg negative patients. HBeAg positive patients with HBeAg seroconversion presented higher amounts of IL-12 before seroconversion compared to HBeAg positive patients with unknown follow up. SIM such as CXCL10 but also IL-12, TGF-β and IL-17 may be useful markers to further characterize the phase of chronic HBV infection.
    • Sonderforschungsbereich SFB 738: Optimierung konventioneller und innovativer Transplantate

      Manns, Michael P; Huber, Petra; Jaeckel, Elmar; Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoofenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-08-09)
    • Stability and Biological Activity of E. coli Derived Soluble and Precipitated Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2.

      Quaas, Bastian; Burmeister, Laura; Li, Zhaopeng; Satalov, Alexandra; Behrens, Peter; Hoffmann, Andrea; Rinas, Ursula; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2019-11-20)
      PURPOSE: There is a plethora of studies on recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) application and delivery systems, but surprisingly few reports address the biophysical properties of the protein which are of crucial importance to develop effective delivery systems or to solve general problems related to rhBMP-2 production, purification, analysis and application. METHODS:The solubility, stability and bioactivity of rhBMP-2 obtained by renaturation of E. coli derived inclusion bodies was assessed at different pH and in different buffer systems using (dynamic) light scattering and thermal shift assays as well as intrinsic fluorescence measurements and luciferase based bioassays. RESULTS: rhBMP-2 is poorly soluble at physiological pH and higher. The presence of divalent anions further decreases the solubility even under acidic conditions. Thermal stability analyses revealed that rhBMP-2 precipitates are more stable compared to the soluble protein. Moreover, correctly folded rhBMP-2 is also bioactive as precipitated protein and precipitates readily dissolve under appropriate buffer conditions. Once properly formed rhBMP-2 also retains biological activity after temporary exposure to high concentrations of chaotropic denaturants. However, care should be taken to discriminate bioactive rhBMP-2 precipitates from misfolded rhBMP-2 aggregates, e.g. resolvability in MES buffer (pH 5) and a discrete peak in thermoshift experiments are mandatory for correctly folded rhBMP-2. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis revealed that E. coli derived rhBMP-2 precipitates are not only bioactive but are also more stable compared to the soluble dimeric molecules. Knowledge about these unusual properties will be helpful to design improved delivery systems requiring lower amounts of rhBMP-2 in clinical applications.
    • Structural and functional features of self-assembling protein nanoparticles produced in endotoxin-free Escherichia coli.

      Rueda, Fabián; Céspedes, María Virtudes; Sánchez-Chardi, Alejandro; Seras-Franzoso, Joaquin; Pesarrodona, Mireia; Ferrer-Miralles, Neus; Vázquez, Esther; Rinas, Ursula; Unzueta, Ugutz; Mamat, Uwe; et al. (2016)
      Production of recombinant drugs in process-friendly endotoxin-free bacterial factories targets to a lessened complexity of the purification process combined with minimized biological hazards during product application. The development of nanostructured recombinant materials in innovative nanomedical activities expands such a need beyond plain functional polypeptides to complex protein assemblies. While Escherichia coli has been recently modified for the production of endotoxin-free proteins, no data has been so far recorded regarding how the system performs in the fabrication of smart nanostructured materials.
    • Structural similarities and functional differences clarify evolutionary relationships between tRNA healing enzymes and the myelin enzyme CNPase.

      Muruganandam, Gopinath; Raasakka, Arne; Myllykoski, Matti; Kursula, Inari; Kursula, Petri; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr.7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-05-16)
      Eukaryotic tRNA splicing is an essential process in the transformation of a primary tRNA transcript into a mature functional tRNA molecule. 5'-phosphate ligation involves two steps: a healing reaction catalyzed by polynucleotide kinase (PNK) in association with cyclic phosphodiesterase (CPDase), and a sealing reaction catalyzed by an RNA ligase. The enzymes that catalyze tRNA healing in yeast and higher eukaryotes are homologous to the members of the 2H phosphoesterase superfamily, in particular to the vertebrate myelin enzyme 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase (CNPase).
    • Structural, mechanistic and functional insight into gliotoxin bis-thiomethylation in Aspergillus fumigatus.

      Dolan, Stephen K; Bock, Tobias; Hering, Vanessa; Owens, Rebecca A; Jones, Gary W; Blankenfeldt, Wulf; Doyle, Sean; Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-02)
      Gliotoxin is an epipolythiodioxopiperazine (ETP) class toxin, contains a disulfide bridge that mediates its toxic effects via redox cycling and is produced by the opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus Self-resistance against gliotoxin is effected by the gliotoxin oxidase GliT, and attenuation of gliotoxin biosynthesis is catalysed by gliotoxin S-methyltransferase GtmA. Here we describe the X-ray crystal structures of GtmA-apo (1.66 Å), GtmA complexed to S-adenosylhomocysteine (1.33 Å) and GtmA complexed to S-adenosylmethionine (2.28 Å), providing mechanistic insights into this important biotransformation. We further reveal that simultaneous elimination of the ability of A. fumigatus to dissipate highly reactive dithiol gliotoxin, via deletion of GliT and GtmA, results in the most significant hypersensitivity to exogenous gliotoxin observed to date. Indeed, quantitative proteomic analysis of ΔgliT::ΔgtmA reveals an uncontrolled over-activation of the gli-cluster upon gliotoxin exposure. The data presented herein reveal, for the first time, the extreme risk associated with intracellular dithiol gliotoxin biosynthesis-in the absence of an efficient dismutation capacity. Significantly, a previously concealed protective role for GtmA and functionality of ETP bis-thiomethylation as an ancestral protection strategy against dithiol compounds is now evident.
    • Synthetic rewiring and boosting type I interferon responses for visualization and counteracting viral infections.

      Gödecke, Natascha; Riedel, Jan; Herrmann, Sabrina; Behme, Sara; Rand, Ulfert; Kubsch, Tobias; Cicin-Sain, Luka; Hauser, Hansjörg; Köster, Mario; Wirth, Dagmar; et al. (Oxford Academic, 2020-11-18)
      Mammalian first line of defense against viruses is accomplished by the interferon (IFN) system. Viruses have evolved numerous mechanisms to reduce the IFN action allowing them to invade the host and/or to establish latency. We generated an IFN responsive intracellular hub by integrating the synthetic transactivator tTA into the chromosomal Mx2 locus for IFN-based activation of tTA dependent expression modules. The additional implementation of a synthetic amplifier module with positive feedback even allowed for monitoring and reacting to infections of viruses that can antagonize the IFN system. Low and transient IFN amounts are sufficient to trigger these amplifier cells. This gives rise to higher and sustained-but optionally de-activatable-expression even when the initial stimulus has faded out. Amplification of the IFN response induced by IFN suppressing viruses is sufficient to protect cells from infection. Together, this interfaced sensor/actuator system provides a toolbox for robust sensing and counteracting viral infections.
    • Targeting Antitumoral Proteins to Breast Cancer by Local Administration of Functional Inclusion Bodies

      Pesarrodona, Mireia; Jauset, Toni; Díaz-Riascos, Zamira V.; Sánchez-Chardi, Alejandro; Beaulieu, Marie Eve; Seras-Franzoso, Joaquin; Sánchez-García, Laura; Baltà-Foix, Ricardo; Mancilla, Sandra; Fernández, Yolanda; et al. (Wiley-VCH, 2019-01-01)
      Two structurally and functionally unrelated proteins, namely Omomyc and p31, are engineered as CD44-targeted inclusion bodies produced in recombinant bacteria. In this unusual particulate form, both types of protein materials selectively penetrate and kill CD44+ tumor cells in culture, and upon local administration, promote destruction of tumoral tissue in orthotropic mouse models of human breast cancer. These findings support the concept of bacterial inclusion bodies as versatile protein materials suitable for application in chronic diseases that, like cancer, can benefit from a local slow release of therapeutic proteins
    • Ten-year efficacy and safety of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate treatment for chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

      Marcellin, Patrick; Wong, Dave; Sievert, William; Buggisch, Peter; Petersen, Jörg; Flisiak, Robert; Manns, Michael; Kaita, Kelly; Krastev, Zahari; Lee, Samuel S; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-05-28)
      Background & Aims Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) is a first‐line treatment for chronic hepatitis B (CHB). We aimed to describe the efficacy and safety profiles of TDF treatment for up to 10 years in a well‐described cohort of CHB patients. Methods Hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)‐negative and HBeAg‐positive patients from two randomised, double‐blind trials (ClinicalTrials. gov: NCT00117676 and NCT00116805) completed 48 weeks of randomised treatment with TDF or adefovir dipivoxil. A subset of these patients was then eligible to receive open‐label TDF treatment for up to 10 years. At Year 10, patients were assessed for virological suppression, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) normalisation, serological response, safety, and tolerability. Results Of 641 randomised and treated patients, 585 (91%) entered the open‐label extension phase with 203 (32%) patients completing Year 10 of the study. At Year 10, 118/118 (100%) of HBeAg‐negative patients and 78/80 (98%) of HBeAg‐positive patients with available data achieved hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA <69 IU/mL, while 88/106 (83%) and 60/77 (78%) patients achieved ALT normalisation, respectively. Of the 23 patients with HBeAg status available at Year 10, 12 (52%) and six (27%) experienced HBeAg loss and seroconversion, respectively. No resistance to TDF was documented up to Year 10. In the period between Year 8 and Year 10, the safety profile of TDF was similar to previous reports, with few patients experiencing renal‐ or bone‐related adverse events. Conclusions Over 10 years, TDF had a favourable safety profile, was well tolerated, and resulted in continued maintenance of virological suppression with no documented resistance.
    • TLR9-Mediated Conditioning of Liver Environment Is Essential for Successful Intrahepatic Immunotherapy and Effective Memory Recall.

      Cebula, Marcin; Riehn, Mathias; Hillebrand, Upneet; Kratzer, Ramona F; Kreppel, Florian; Koutsoumpli, Georgia; Daemen, Toos; Hauser, Hansjoerg; Wirth, Dagmar; Helmholtz -Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH. Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-07-14)
      Immune defense against hepatotropic viruses such as hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) poses a major challenge for therapeutic approaches. Intrahepatic cytotoxic CD8 T cells that are crucial for an immune response against these viruses often become exhausted resulting in chronic infection. We elucidated the T cell response upon therapeutic vaccination in inducible transgenic mouse models in which variable percentages of antigen-expressing hepatocytes can be adjusted, providing mosaic antigen distribution and reflecting the varying viral antigen loads observed in patients. Vaccination-induced endogenous CD8 T cells could eliminate low antigen loads in liver but were functionally impaired if confronted with elevated antigen loads. Strikingly, only by conditioning the liver environment with TLR9 ligand prior and early after peripheral vaccination, successful immunization against high intrahepatic antigen density with its elimination was achieved. Moreover, TLR9 immunomodulation was also indispensable for functional memory recall after high frequency antigen challenge. Together, the results indicate that TLR9-mediated conditioning of liver environment during therapeutic vaccination or antigen reoccurrence is crucial for an efficacious intrahepatic T cell response.
    • Unexpected roles for ADH1 and SORD in catalyzing the final step of erythritol biosynthesis.

      Schlicker, Lisa; Szebenyi, Doletha M E; Ortiz, Semira R; Heinz, Alexander; Hiller, Karsten; Field, Martha S; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2019-11-01)
      The low-calorie sweetener erythritol is endogenously produced from glucose through the pentose phosphate pathway in humans. Erythritol is of medical interest because elevated plasma levels of this polyol are predictive for visceral adiposity gain and development of type 2 diabetes. However, the mechanisms behind these associations remain unknown because the erythritol biosynthesis pathway, particularly the enzyme catalyzing the final step of erythritol synthesis (reduction of erythrose to erythritol), is not characterized. In this study, we purified two enzymes from rabbit liver capable of catalyzing the conversion of erythrose to erythritol: alcohol dehydrogenase 1 (ADH1) and sorbitol dehydrogenase (SORD). Both recombinant human ADH1 and SORD reduce erythrose to erythritol, using NADPH as a co-factor, and cell culture studies indicate that this activity is primarily NADPH-dependent. We found that ADH1 variants vary markedly in both their affinity for erythrose and their catalytic capacity (turnover number). Interestingly, the recombinant protein produced from the ADH1B2 variant, common in Asian populations, is not active when NADPH is used as a co-factor in vitro We also confirmed SORD contributes to intracellular erythritol production in human A549 lung cancer cells, where ADH1 is minimally expressed. In summary, human ADH1 and SORD catalyze the conversion of erythrose to erythritol, pointing to novel roles for two dehydrogenase proteins in human glucose metabolism that may contribute to individual responses to diet. Proteomics data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifier PXD015178.
    • Unsaturated Fatty Acids Control Biofilm Formation of and Other Gram-Positive Bacteria.

      Yuyama, Kamila Tomoko; Rohde, Manfred; Molinari, Gabriella; Stadler, Marc; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-11-08)
      Infections involving biofilms are difficult to treat due to increased resistances against antibiotics and the immune system. Hence, there is an urgent demand for novel drugs against biofilm infections. During our search for novel biofilm inhibitors from fungi, we isolated linoleic acid from the ascomycete Hypoxylon fragiforme which showed biofilm inhibition of several bacteria at sub-MIC concentrations. Many fatty acids possess antimicrobial activities, but their minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) are high and reports on biofilm interferences are scarce. We demonstrated that not only linoleic acid but several unsaturated long-chain fatty acids inhibited biofilms at sub-MIC concentrations. The antibiofilm activity exerted by long-chain fatty acids was mainly against Gram-positive bacteria, especially against Staphylococcus aureus. Micrographs of treated S. aureus biofilms revealed a reduction in the extracellular polymeric substances, pointing to a possible mode of action of fatty acids on S. aureus biofilms. The fatty acids had a strong species specificity. Poly-unsaturated fatty acids had higher activities than saturated ones, but no obvious rule could be found for the optimal length and desaturation for maximal activity. As free fatty acids are non-toxic and ubiquitous in food, they may offer a novel tool, especially in combination with antibiotics, for the control of biofilm infections.
    • Variations in microbiota composition of laboratory mice influence Citrobacter rodentium infection via variable short-chain fatty acid production.

      Osbelt, Lisa; Thiemann, Sophie; Smit, Nathiana; Lesker, Till Robin; Schröter, Madita; Gálvez, Eric J C; Schmidt-Hohagen, Kerstin; Pils, Marina C; Mühlen, Sabrina; Dersch, Petra; et al. (PLOS, 2020-03-24)
      The composition of the intestinal microbiota influences the outcome of enteric infections in human and mice. However, the role of specific members and their metabolites contributing to disease severity is largely unknown. Using isogenic mouse lines harboring distinct microbiota communities, we observed highly variable disease kinetics of enteric Citrobacter rodentium colonization after infection. Transfer of communities from susceptible and resistant mice into germ-free mice verified that the varying susceptibilities are determined by microbiota composition. The strongest differences in colonization were observed in the cecum and could be maintained in vitro by coculturing cecal bacteria with C. rodentium. Cohousing of animals as well as the transfer of cultivable bacteria from resistant to susceptible mice led to variable outcomes in the recipient mice. Microbiome analysis revealed that a higher abundance of butyrate-producing bacteria was associated with the resistant phenotype. Quantification of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) levels before and after infection revealed increased concentrations of acetate, butyrate and propionate in mice with delayed colonization. Addition of physiological concentrations of butyrate, but not of acetate and/or propionate strongly impaired growth of C. rodentium in vitro. In vivo supplementation of susceptible, antibiotic-treated and germ-free mice with butyrate led to the same level of protection, notably only when cecal butyrate concentration reached a concentration higher than 50 nmol/mg indicating a critical threshold for protection. In the recent years, commensal-derived primary and secondary bacterial metabolites emerged as potent modulators of hosts susceptibility to infection. Our results provide evidence that variations in SCFA production in mice fed fibre-rich chow-based diets modulate susceptibility to colonization with Enterobacteriaceae not only in antibiotic-disturbed ecosystems but even in undisturbed microbial communities. These findings emphasise the need for microbiota normalization across laboratory mouse lines for infection experiments with the model-pathogen C. rodentium independent of investigations of diet and antibiotic usage.
    • Varying the sustained release of BMP-2 from chitosan nanogel-functionalized polycaprolactone fiber mats by different polycaprolactone surface modifications.

      Sundermann, Julius; Oehmichen, Sarah; Sydow, Steffen; Burmeister, Laura; Quaas, Bastian; Hänsch, Robert; Rinas, Ursula; Hoffmann, Andrea; Menzel, Henning; Bunjes, Heike; et al. (Wiley and sons, 2020-06-30)
      Polycaprolactone (PCL) fiber mats with different surface modifications were functionalized with a chitosan nanogel coating to attach the growth factor human bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2). Three different hydrophilic surface modifications were compared with regard to the binding and in vitro release of BMP-2. The type of surface modification and the specific surface area derived from the fiber thickness had an important influence on the degree of protein loading. Coating the PCL fibers with polydopamine resulted in the binding of the largest BMP-2 quantity per surface area. However, most of the binding was irreversible over the investigated period of time, causing a low release in vitro. PCL fiber mats with a chitosan-graft-PCL coating and an additional alginate layer, as well as PCL fiber mats with an air plasma surface modification boundless BMP-2, but the immobilized protein could almost completely be released. With polydopamine and plasma modifications as well as with unmodified PCL, high amounts of BMP-2 could also be attached directly to the surface. Integration of BMP-2 into the chitosan nanogel functionalization considerably increased binding on all hydrophilized surfaces and resulted in a sustained release with an initial burst release of BMP-2 without detectable loss of bioactivity in vitro.
    • Virulence of Agrobacterium tumefaciens requires lipid homeostasis mediated by the lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol hydrolase AcvB.

      Groenewold, Maike K; Hebecker, Stefanie; Fritz, Christiane; Czolkoss, Simon; Wiesselmann, Milan; Heinz, Dirk W; Jahn, Dieter; Narberhaus, Franz; Aktas, Meriyem; Moser, Jürgen; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-01-01)
      Agrobacterium tumefaciens transfers oncogenic T-DNA via the type IV secretion system (T4SS) into plants causing tumor formation. The acvB gene encodes a virulence factor of unknown function required for plant transformation. Here we specify AcvB as a periplasmic lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (L-PG) hydrolase, which modulates L-PG homeostasis. Through functional characterization of recombinant AcvB variants, we showed that the C-terminal domain of AcvB (residues 232-456) is sufficient for full enzymatic activity and defined key residues for catalysis. Absence of the hydrolase resulted in ~10-fold increase in L-PG in Agrobacterium membranes and abolished T-DNA transfer and tumor formation. Overproduction of the L-PG synthase gene (lpiA) in wild-type A. tumefaciens resulted in a similar increase in the L-PG content (~7-fold) and a virulence defect even in the presence of intact AcvB. These results suggest that elevated L-PG amounts (either by overproduction of the synthase or absence of the hydrolase) are responsible for the virulence phenotype. Gradually increasing the L-PG content by complementation with different acvB variants revealed that cellular L-PG levels above 3% of total phospholipids interfere with T-DNA transfer. Cumulatively, this study identified AcvB as a novel virulence factor required for membrane lipid homeostasis and T-DNA transfer.