• RNA landscape of the emerging cancer-associated microbe Fusobacterium nucleatum.

      Ponath, Falk; Tawk, Caroline; Zhu, Yan; Barquist, Lars; Faber, Franziska; Vogel, Jörg; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (Nature Research, 2021-07-08)
      Fusobacterium nucleatum, long known as a constituent of the oral microflora, has recently garnered renewed attention for its association with several different human cancers. The growing interest in this emerging cancer-associated bacterium contrasts with a paucity of knowledge about its basic gene expression features and physiological responses. As fusobacteria lack all established small RNA-associated proteins, post-transcriptional networks in these bacteria are also unknown. In the present study, using differential RNA-sequencing, we generate high-resolution global RNA maps for five clinically relevant fusobacterial strains-F. nucleatum subspecies nucleatum, animalis, polymorphum and vincentii, as well as F. periodonticum-for early, mid-exponential growth and early stationary phase. These data are made available in an online browser, and we use these to uncover fundamental aspects of fusobacterial gene expression architecture and a suite of non-coding RNAs. Developing a vector for functional analysis of fusobacterial genes, we discover a conserved fusobacterial oxygen-induced small RNA, FoxI, which serves as a post-transcriptional repressor of the major outer membrane porin FomA. Our findings provide a crucial step towards delineating the regulatory networks enabling F. nucleatum adaptation to different environments, which may elucidate how these bacteria colonize different compartments of the human body.
    • Stress-induced host membrane remodeling protects from infection by non-motile bacterial pathogens.

      Tawk, Caroline; Nigro, Giulia; Rodrigues Lopes, Ines; Aguilar, Carmen; Lisowski, Clivia; Mano, Miguel; Sansonetti, Philippe; Vogel, Jörg; Eulalio, Ana; HIRI, Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Shneider Strasse 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2018-11-02)
      While mucosal inflammation is a major source of stress during enteropathogen infection, it remains to be fully elucidated how the host benefits from this environment to clear the pathogen. Here, we show that host stress induced by different stimuli mimicking inflammatory conditions strongly reduces the binding of Shigella flexneri to epithelial cells. Mechanistically, stress activates acid sphingomyelinase leading to host membrane remodeling. Consequently, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of the acid sphingomyelinase blunts the stress-dependent inhibition of Shigella binding to host cells. Interestingly, stress caused by intracellular Shigella replication also results in remodeling of the host cell membrane, in vitro and in vivo, which precludes re-infection by this and other non-motile pathogens. In contrast, Salmonella Typhimurium overcomes the shortage of permissive entry sites by gathering effectively at the remaining platforms through its flagellar motility. Overall, our findings reveal host membrane remodeling as a novel stress-responsive cell-autonomous defense mechanism that protects epithelial cells from infection by non-motile bacterial pathogens.
    • A systematic analysis of the RNA-targeting potential of secreted bacterial effector proteins.

      Tawk, Caroline; Sharan, Malvika; Eulalio, Ana; Vogel, Jörg; Helmholtz-Institut für RNA-basierte Infektionsforschung, Josef-Schneider-Straße2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany. (2017-08-24)
      Many pathogenic bacteria utilize specialized secretion systems to deliver proteins called effectors into eukaryotic cells for manipulation of host pathways. The vast majority of known effector targets are host proteins, whereas a potential targeting of host nucleic acids remains little explored. There is only one family of effectors known to target DNA directly, and effectors binding host RNA are unknown. Here, we take a two-pronged approach to search for RNA-binding effectors, combining biocomputational prediction of RNA-binding domains (RBDs) in a newly assembled comprehensive dataset of bacterial secreted proteins, and experimental screening for RNA binding in mammalian cells. Only a small subset of effectors were predicted to carry an RBD, indicating that if RNA targeting was common, it would likely involve new types of RBDs. Our experimental evaluation of effectors with predicted RBDs further argues for a general paucity of RNA binding activities amongst bacterial effectors. We obtained evidence that PipB2 and Lpg2844, effector proteins of Salmonella and Legionella species, respectively, may harbor novel biochemical activities. Our study presenting the first systematic evaluation of the RNA-targeting potential of bacterial effectors offers a basis for discussion of whether or not host RNA is a prominent target of secreted bacterial proteins.