• aroA-Deficient Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium Is More Than a Metabolically Attenuated Mutant.

      Felgner, Sebastian; Frahm, Michael; Kocijancic, Dino; Rohde, M; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Bielecka, Agata; Bueno, Emilio; Cava, Felipe; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Curtiss, Roy; et al. (2016)
      Recombinant attenuated Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strains are believed to act as powerful live vaccine carriers that are able to elicit protection against various pathogens. Auxotrophic mutations, such as a deletion of aroA, are commonly introduced into such bacteria for attenuation without incapacitating immunostimulation. In this study, we describe the surprising finding that deletion of aroA dramatically increased the virulence of attenuated Salmonella in mouse models. Mutant bacteria lacking aroA elicited increased levels of the proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) after systemic application. A detailed genetic and phenotypic characterization in combination with transcriptomic and metabolic profiling demonstrated that ΔaroA mutants display pleiotropic alterations in cellular physiology and lipid and amino acid metabolism, as well as increased sensitivity to penicillin, complement, and phagocytic uptake. In concert with other immunomodulating mutations, deletion of aroA affected flagellin phase variation and gene expression of the virulence-associated genes arnT and ansB Finally, ΔaroA strains displayed significantly improved tumor therapeutic activity. These results highlight the importance of a functional shikimate pathway to control homeostatic bacterial physiology. They further highlight the great potential of ΔaroA-attenuated Salmonella for the development of vaccines and cancer therapies with important implications for host-pathogen interactions and translational medicine.
    • Constitutive production of c-di-GMP is associated with mutations in a variant of Pseudomonas aeruginosa with altered membrane composition.

      Blanka, Andrea; Düvel, Juliane; Dötsch, Andreas; Klinkert, Birgit; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Kaever, Volkhard; Ritter, Christiane; Narberhaus, Franz; Häussler, Susanne; Institute for Molecular Bacteriology, TWINCORE,30625 Hannover, Germany. (2015)
      Most bacteria can form multicellular communities called biofilms on biotic and abiotic surfaces. This multicellular response to surface contact correlates with an increased resistance to various adverse environmental conditions, including those encountered during infections of the human host and exposure to antimicrobial compounds. Biofilm formation occurs when freely swimming (planktonic) cells encounter a surface, which stimulates the chemosensory-like, surface-sensing system Wsp and leads to generation of the intracellular second messenger 3',5'-cyclic-di-guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP). We identified adaptive mutations in a clinical small colony variant (SCV) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and correlated their presence with self-aggregating growth behavior and an enhanced capacity to form biofilms. We present evidence that a point mutation in the 5' untranslated region of the accBC gene cluster, which encodes components of an enzyme responsible for fatty acid biosynthesis, was responsible for a stabilized mRNA structure that resulted in reduced translational efficiency and an increase in the proportion of short-chain fatty acids in the plasma membrane. We propose a model in which these changes in P. aeruginosa serve as a signal for the Wsp system to constitutively produce increased amounts of c-di-GMP and thus play a role in the regulation of adhesion-stimulated bacterial responses.
    • Establishment of an induced memory response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa during infection of a eukaryotic host.

      Kordes, Adrian; Grahl, Nora; Koska, Michal; Preusse, Matthias; Arce-Rodriguez, Alejandro; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Kaever, Volkhard; Häussler, Susanne; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-08-01)
      In a given habitat, bacterial cells often experience recurrent exposures to the same environmental stimulus. The ability to memorize the past event and to adjust current behaviors can lead to efficient adaptation to the recurring stimulus. Here we demonstrate that the versatile bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa adopts a virulence phenotype after serial passage in the invertebrate model host Galleria mellonella. The virulence phenotype was not linked to the acquisition of genetic variations and was sustained for several generations, despite cultivation of the ex vivo virulence-adapted P. aeruginosa cells under rich medium conditions in vitro. Transcriptional reprogramming seemed to be induced by a host-specific food source, as reprogramming was also observed upon cultivation of P. aeruginosa in rich medium supplemented with polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids. The establishment of induced memory responses adds a time dimension and seems to fill the gap between long-term evolutionary genotypic adaptation and short-term induced individual responses. Efforts to unravel the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the carry-over effect to induce such memory responses will continue to be of importance as hysteretic behavior can serve survival of bacterial populations in changing and challenging habitats.
    • Identification of the alternative sigma factor SigX regulon and its implications for Pseudomonas aeruginosa pathogenicity.

      Blanka, Andrea; Schulz, Sebastian; Eckweiler, Denitsa; Franke, Raimo; Bielecka, Agata; Nicolai, Tanja; Casilag, Fiordiligie; Düvel, Juliane; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; Kaever, Volkhard; et al. (2014-01)
      Pseudomonas aeruginosa is distinguished by its broad metabolic diversity and its remarkable capability for adaptation, which relies on a large collection of transcriptional regulators and alternative sigma (σ) factors. The largest group of alternative σ factors is that of the extracytoplasmic function (ECF) σ factors, which control key transduction pathways for maintenance of envelope homeostasis in response to external stress and cell growth. In addition, there are specific roles of alternative σ factors in regulating the expression of virulence and virulence-associated genes. Here, we analyzed a deletion mutant of the ECF σ factor SigX and applied mRNA profiling to define the SigX-dependent regulon in P. aeruginosa in response to low-osmolarity-medium conditions. Furthermore, the combination of transcriptional data with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) followed by high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) led to the identification of the DNA binding motif of SigX. Genome-wide mapping of SigX-binding regions revealed enrichment of downstream genes involved in fatty acid biosynthesis, type III secretion, swarming and cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP) signaling. In accordance, a sigX deletion mutant exhibited altered fatty acid composition of the cell membrane, reduced cytotoxicity, impaired swarming activity, elevated c-di-GMP levels, and increased biofilm formation. In conclusion, a combination of ChIP-seq with transcriptional profiling and bioinformatic approaches to define consensus DNA binding sequences proved to be effective for the elucidation of the regulon of the alternative σ factor SigX, revealing its role in complex virulence-associated phenotypes in P. aeruginosa.