Publications

2020
Park J, Minhye S, Jin Y, Kim IJ, Payne SM, Kim KH. Biochemical characterization of bacterial FeoBs: A perspective on nucleotide specificity. Arch. Biochem. Biophys . [Internet]. 2020 :108350. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Iron is an essential requirement for the survival and virulence of most bacteria. The bacterial ferrous iron transporter protein FeoB functions as a major reduced iron transporter in prokaryotes, but its biochemical mechanism has not been fully elucidated. In the present study, we compared enzymatic properties of the cytosolic portions of pathogenic bacterial FeoBs to elucidate each bacterial strain-specific characteristic of the Feo system. We show that bacterial FeoBs are classified into two distinct groups that possess either a sole GTPase or an NTPase with a substrate promiscuity. This difference in nucleotide preference alters cellular requirements for monovalent and divalent cations. While the hydrolytic activity of the GTP-dependent FeoBs was stimulated by potassium, the action of the NTP-dependent FeoBs was not significantly affected by the presence of monovalent cations. Mutation of Asn11, having a role in potassium-dependent GTP hydrolysis, changed nucleotide specificity of the NTP-dependent FeoB, resulting in loss of ATPase activity. Sequence analysis suggested a possible association of alanine in the G5 motif for the NTP-dependent activity in FeoBs. This demonstration of the distinct enzymatic properties of bacterial FeoBs provides important insights into mechanistic details of Feo iron transport processes, as well as offers a promising species-specific anti-virulence target.
2019
Payne SM. Laboratory Cultivation and Storage of Shigella . Curr Protoc Microbiol. [Internet]. 2019;55 (1) :e93. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Shigella species, which are closely related to Escherichia coli, can easily be maintained and stored in the laboratory. This article includes protocols for preparation of routine growth conditions and media, for storage of the bacteria, and for monitoring of the presence of the virulence plasmid.

Basic Protocol 1: Growth of S. flexneri from frozen stocks or agar stabs

Basic Protocol 2: Growth of S. flexneri in rich liquid medium

Alternate Protocol 1: Growth of S. flexneri in rich defined medium

Alternate Protocol 2: Growth of S. flexneri in minimal medium

Basic Protocol 3: Storage of S. flexneri in frozen stocks

Alternate Protocol 3: Storage of S. flexneri in agar stabs

Butz HA, Mey AR, Ciosek A, Payne SM. Vibrio cholerae CsrA directly regulates varA to increase expression of the three nonredundant Csr sRNAs. mBio [Internet]. 2019;10 (3) :e01042-19. Publisher's VersionAbstract
CsrA, an RNA-binding global regulator, is an essential protein in Vibrio cholerae. V. cholerae CsrA is regulated by three small RNAs (sRNAs), namely, CsrB, CsrC, and CsrD, which act to sequester and antagonize the activity of CsrA. Although the sRNAs were considered to be largely redundant, we found that they differ in expression, half-life, and the ability to regulate CsrA. Further, we identified a feedback loop in the Csr system in which CsrA increases the synthesis of these antagonistic sRNAs. Because the Csr sRNAs are positively regulated by VarA, we determined the effects of CsrA on VarA levels. The level of VarA was reduced in a csrA mutant, and we found that CsrA directly bound to varA mRNA in an electrophoretic mobility shift assay in vitro and in an CsrA-RNA immunoprecipitation assay in vivo. Thus, varA mRNA is an in vivo-verified direct target of CsrA in V. cholerae, and this is the first demonstration of CsrA directly binding to a varA/uvrY/gacA homolog. Additionally, we demonstrated that a varA translational fusion was less active in a csrA mutant than in wild-type V. cholerae, suggesting that CsrA enhances varA translation. We propose that this autoregulatory feedback loop, in which CsrA increases the production of the nonredundant Csr sRNAs by regulating the amount of VarA, provides a mechanism for fine-tuning the availability of CsrA and, thus, of its downstream targets.
Veloria J, Shin M, Devkota AK, Payne SM, Cho EJ, Dalby KN. Developing Colorimetric and Luminescence-Based High-Throughput Screening Platforms for Monitoring the GTPase Activity of Ferrous Iron Transport Protein B (FeoB). SLAS Discovery [Internet]. 2019;24 (5) :597-605. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Iron is an essential requirement for the survival and virulence for bacteria. The bacterial ferrous iron transporter protein B (FeoB) functions as a major iron transporter in prokaryotes and has an N-terminal domain (NFeoB) with homology to eukaryotic G-proteins. Its GTPase activity is required for ferrous iron uptake, making it a potential target for antivirulence therapies. Here, two assay strategies relying on different spectroscopic readouts are described to monitor NFeoB GTPase activity. The first one is the colorimetric-based platform that utilizes a malachite green reagent to monitor phosphate production from GTP hydrolysis. The absorbance change directly relates to the GTPase activity of NFeoB. The assay was further improved by the addition of Tween-20 and miniaturized in a 384-well plate format with a 10 µL assay volume. The second format is a luminescence-based platform, measuring the GTP depletion by using a modified GTPase-Glo assay from Promega. In this platform, the luminescence signal correlates to the amount of GTP remaining, allowing for the direct calculation of GTP hydrolysis by NFeoB. The colorimetric platform was tested in a high-throughput manner against a custom-assembled library of a~2000 small molecules and was found to be simple, cost-effective, and robust. Additionally, the luminescence-based platform demonstrated its capability as an orthogonal assay to monitor GTPase activity, providing a valid and convenient method to filter false hits. These two assay platforms are proven to offset the limitations of each platform while enhancing overall quality and success rates.
Shin M, Mey AR, Payne SM. Vibrio cholerae FeoB contains a dual nucleotide-specific NTPase domain essential for ferrous iron uptake. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2019;116 (10) :4599-4604. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Feo ferrous iron transporter is widely distributed among bacteria and archaea, but its mechanism of transport has not been fully elucidated. In Vibrio cholerae, the transport system requires three proteins: the small cytosolic proteins FeoA and FeoC and a large cytoplasmic-membrane-associated protein FeoB, which has an N-terminal G-protein domain. We show that, in contrast to Escherichia coliFeoB, which is solely a GTPase, the V. cholerae and Helicobacter pylori FeoB proteins have both GTPase and ATPase activity. In V. cholerae, mutation of the G4 motif, responsible for hydrogen bonding with the guanine base, abolished the GTPase activity but not ATPase activity. The ATPase activity of the G4 motif mutants was sufficient for Feo function in the absence of GTPase. We show that the serine and asparagine residues in the G5 motif likely play a role in the ATPase activity, and substitution of these residues with those found in the corresponding positions in E. coli FeoB resulted in similar nucleotide hydrolysis activity in the E. coli protein. These results add significantly to our understanding of the NTPase domain of FeoB and its role in Feo function.
Koestler BJ, Ward CM, Fisher CR, Rajan A, Maresso AW, Payne SM. Human intestinal enteroids as a model system of Shigella pathogenesis. Infection and Immunity [Internet]. 2019;87 (4). Publisher's VersionAbstract
The enteric bacterium and intracellular human pathogen Shigella causes hundreds of millions of cases of the diarrheal disease shigellosis per year worldwide. Shigella is acquired by ingestion of contaminated food or water; upon reaching the colon, the bacteria invade the colonic epithelial cells, replicate intracellularly, spread to adjacent cells, and provoke an intense inflammatory response. There is no animal model that faithfully recapitulates human disease, thus cultured cells have been used to model Shigella pathogenesis. However, the use of transformed cells in culture does not provide the same environment to the bacteria as the normal human intestinal epithelium. Recent advances in tissue culture now enable the cultivation of human intestinal enteroids (HIEs), which are derived from human intestinal stem cells and grown ex vivo, and then differentiated into "mini-intestines." Here, we demonstrate that HIEs can be used to model Shigellapathogenesis. We show that Shigella flexneri invades polarized HIE monolayers preferentially via the basolateral surface. After S. flexneriinvades HIE monolayers, S. flexneri replicates within HIE cells and forms actin tails. S. flexneri also increases the expression of HIE pro-inflammatory signals and the amino acid transporter SLC7A5. Finally, we demonstrate that disruption of HIE tight junctions enables S. flexneriinvasion via the apical surface.
2018
Milich KM, Koestler BJ, Simmons JH, Nehete PN, Di Fiore A, Williams LE, Dudley JP, Vanchiere J, Payne SM. Methods for detecting Zika virus in feces: A case study in captive squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis). PLoS One [Internet]. 2018;13 (12). Publisher's VersionAbstract
A strain of Zika virus (ZIKV) of Asian origin associated with birth defects and neurological disorders has emerged and spread through the Americas. ZIKV was first isolated in the blood of nonhuman primates in Africa and has been detected in the blood, saliva, and urine of a few catarrhine species in both Africa and Asia, suggesting that nonhuman primates may serve as both a source and a reservoir of the virus. The recent introduction of ZIKV to human populations in the Americas presents the potential for the virus to spread into nonhuman primate reservoirs. Thus, it is critical to develop efficient and noninvasive detection methods to monitor the spread of the virus in wild nonhuman primate populations. Here, we describe a method for ZIKV detection in noninvasively collected fecal samples of a Neotropical primate. Fecal samples were collected from two captive squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis) that were experimentally infected with ZIKV (Strain Mexico_1_44) and an additional two uninfected squirrel monkeys. Nucleic acids were extracted from these samples, and RT-qPCR was used to assay for the presence of ZIKV using primers flanking a 101 bp region of the NS5 gene. In both ZIKV-inoculated animals, ZIKV was detected 5-11 days post-infection, but was not detected in the uninfected animals. We compare the fecal results to ZIKV detection in serum, saliva, and urine samples from the same individuals. Our results indicate that fecal detection is a cost-effective, noninvasive method for monitoring wild populations of Neotropical primates as possible ZIKV reservoirs.
Koestler BJ, Fisher CR, Payne SM. Formate Promotes Shigella Intercellular Spread and Virulence Gene Expression. mBio [Internet]. 2018;9 (5) :e01777-18. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The intracellular human pathogen Shigella flexneri invades the colon epithelium, replicates to high cell density within the host cell, and then spreads to adjacent epithelial cells. When S. flexneri gains access to the host cytosol, the bacteria metabolize host cytosolic carbon using glycolysis and mixed acid fermentation, producing formate as a by-product. We show that S. flexneri infection results in the accumulation of formate within the host cell. Loss of pyruvate formate lyase (PFL; ΔpflB), which converts pyruvate to acetyl coenzyme A (CoA) and formate, eliminates S. flexneri formate production and reduces the ability of S. flexneri to form plaques in epithelial cell monolayers. This defect in PFL does not decrease the intracellular growth rate of S. flexneri; rather, it affects cell-to-cell spread. The S. flexneri ΔpflB mutant plaque defect is complemented by supplying exogenous formate; conversely, deletion of the S. flexneri formate dehydrogenase gene fdnG increases host cell formate accumulation and S. flexneri plaque size. Furthermore, exogenous formate increases plaque size of the wild-type (WT) S. flexneristrain and promotes S. flexneri cell-to-cell spread. We also demonstrate that formate increases the expression of S. flexneri virulence genes icsA and ipaJ Intracellular S. flexneriicsA and ipaJ expression is dependent on the presence of formate, and ipaJ expression correlates with S. flexneri intracellular density during infection. Finally, consistent with elevated ipaJ, we show that formate alters S. flexneri-infected host interferon- and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-stimulated gene expression. We propose that Shigella-derived formate is an intracellular signal that modulates virulence in response to bacterial metabolism.

IMPORTANCEShigella is an intracellular pathogen that invades the human host cell cytosol and exploits intracellular nutrients for growth, enabling the bacterium to create its own metabolic niche. For Shigella to effectively invade and replicate within the host cytoplasm, it must sense and adapt to changing environmental conditions; however, the mechanisms and signals sensed by S. flexneri are largely unknown. We have found that the secreted Shigella metabolism by-product formate regulates Shigella intracellular virulence gene expression and its ability to spread among epithelial cells. We propose that Shigella senses formate accumulation in the host cytosol as a way to determine intracellular Shigella density and regulate secreted virulence factors accordingly, enabling spatiotemporal regulation of effectors important for dampening the host immune response.

Koestler BJ, Ward CM, Payne SM. Shigella Pathogenesis Modeling with Tissue Culture Assays. Current Protocols in Microbiology [Internet]. 2018;50 (1) :e57. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Shigella is an enteroinvasive human pathogen that infects the colonic epithelium and causes Shigellosis, an infectious diarrheal disease. There is no vaccine for the prevention or treatment of Shigellosis and antibiotic‐resistant strains of Shigella are increasing, emphasizing the need for a deeper understanding of Shigella pathogenesis in order to design effective antimicrobial therapies. Small animal models do not recapitulate Shigellosis, therefore tissue‐cultured cells have served as model systems to study Shigellapathogenesis. Here, protocols to enumerate Shigella invasion, cell‐cell spread, and plaque formation in the tissue‐cultured cell lines Henle‐407 and CoN‐841 are described. Additionally, a new method to study Shigella invasion in primary intestinal enteroids is described. These protocols can be used to examine different aspects of Shigella virulence. 
2017
Rossi RM, Yum L, Agaisse H, Payne SM. Cardiolipin Synthesis and Outer Membrane Localization Are Required for Shigella flexneri Virulence. mBio [Internet]. 2017;8 (4). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Cardiolipin, an anionic phospholipid that resides at the poles of the inner and outer membranes, is synthesized primarily by the putative cardiolipin synthase ClsA in Shigella flexneri. An S. flexneri clsA mutant had no cardiolipin detected within its membrane, grew normally in vitro, and invaded cultured epithelial cells, but it failed to form plaques in epithelial cell monolayers, indicating that cardiolipin is required for virulence. The clsA mutant was initially motile within the host cell cytoplasm but formed filaments and lost motility during replication and failed to spread efficiently to neighboring cells. Mutation of pbgA, which encodes the transporter for cardiolipin from the inner membrane to the outer membrane, also resulted in loss of plaque formation. The S. flexneri pbgA mutant had normal levels of cardiolipin in the inner membrane, but no cardiolipin was detected in the outer membrane. The pbgA mutant invaded and replicated normally within cultured epithelial cells but failed to localize the actin polymerization protein IcsA properly on the bacterial surface and was unable to spread to neighboring cells. The clsA mutant, but not the pbgA mutant, had increased phosphatidylglycerol in the outer membrane. This appeared to compensate partially for the loss of cardiolipin in the outer membrane, allowing some IcsA localization in the outer membrane of the clsA mutant. We propose a dual function for cardiolipin in S. flexneri pathogenesis. In the inner membrane, cardiolipin is essential for proper cell division during intracellular growth. In the outer membrane, cardiolipin facilitates proper presentation of IcsA on the bacterial surface.
Peng ED, Payne SM. Vibrio cholerae VciB Mediates Iron Reduction. Journal of Bacteriology [Internet]. 2017;199 (12). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of the severe diarrheal disease cholera. V. cholerae thrives within the human host, where it replicates to high numbers, but it also persists within the aquatic environments of ocean and brackish water. To survive within these nutritionally diverse environments, V. cholerae must encode the necessary tools to acquire the essential nutrient iron in all forms it may encounter. A prior study of systems involved in iron transport in V. choleraerevealed the existence of vciB, which, while unable to directly transport iron, stimulates the transport of iron through ferrous (Fe2+) iron transport systems. We demonstrate here a role for VciB in V. cholerae in which VciB stimulates the reduction of Fe3+ to Fe2+, which can be subsequently transported into the cell with the ferrous iron transporter Feo. Iron reduction is independent of functional iron transport but is associated with the electron transport chain. Comparative analysis of VciB orthologs suggests a similar role for other proteins in the VciB family. Our data indicate that VciB is a dimer located in the inner membrane with three transmembrane segments and a large periplasmic loop. Directed mutagenesis of the protein reveals two highly conserved histidine residues required for function. Taken together, our results support a model whereby VciB reduces ferric iron using energy from the electron transport chain.
2016
Stevenson B, Wyckoff EE, Payne SM. Vibrio cholerae FeoA, FeoB, and FeoC Interact To Form a Complex. Journal of Bacteriology [Internet]. 2016;198 (7). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Feo is the major ferrous iron transport system in prokaryotes. Despite having been discovered over 25 years ago and found to be widely distributed among bacteria, Feo is poorly understood, as its structure and mechanism of iron transport have not been determined. The feo operon in Vibrio cholerae is made up of three genes, encoding the FeoA, FeoB, and FeoC proteins, which are all required for Feo system function. FeoA and FeoC are both small cytoplasmic proteins, and their function remains unclear. FeoB, which is thought to function as a ferrous iron permease, is a large integral membrane protein made up of an N-terminal GTPase domain and a C-terminal membrane-spanning region. To date, structural studies of FeoB have been carried out using a truncated form of the protein encompassing only the N-terminal GTPase region. In this report, we show that full-length FeoB forms higher-order complexes when cross-linked in vivo in V. cholerae. Our analysis of these complexes revealed that FeoB can simultaneously associate with both FeoA and FeoC to form a large complex, an observation that has not been reported previously. We demonstrate that interactions between FeoB and FeoA, but not between FeoB and FeoC, are required for complex formation. Additionally, we identify amino acid residues in the GTPase region of FeoB that are required for function of the Feo system and for complex formation. These observations suggest that this large Feo complex may be the active form of Feo that is used for ferrous iron transport.
Fisher CR, Wyckoff EE, Peng ED, Payne SM. Identification and Characterization of a Putative Manganese Export Protein in Vibrio cholerae. Journal of Bacteriology [Internet]. 2016;198 (20). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Manganese plays an important role in the cellular physiology and metabolism of bacterial species, including the human pathogen Vibrio cholerae. The intracellular level of manganese ions is controlled through coordinated regulation of the import and export of this element. We have identified a putative manganese exporter (VC0022), named mneA (manganese exporter A), which is highly conserved among Vibrio spp. An mneA mutant exhibited sensitivity to manganese but not to other cations. Under high-manganese conditions, the mneA mutant showed an almost 50-fold increase in intracellular manganese levels and reduced intracellular iron relative to those of its wild-type parent, suggesting that the mutant's manganese sensitivity is due to the accumulation of toxic levels of manganese and reduced iron. Expression of mneA suppressed the manganese-sensitive phenotype of an Escherichia coli strain carrying a mutation in the nonhomologous manganese export gene, mntP, further supporting a manganese export function for V. cholerae MneA. The level of mneA mRNA was induced approximately 2.5-fold after addition of manganese to the medium, indicating regulation of this gene by manganese. This study offers the first insights into understanding manganese homeostasis in this important pathogen.
Kazi MI, Conrado AR, Mey AR, Payne SM, Davies BW. ToxR Antagonizes H-NS Regulation of Horizontally Acquired Genes to Drive Host Colonization. PLoS Pathogens [Internet]. 2016;12 (4). Publisher's VersionAbstract
The virulence regulator ToxR initiates and coordinates gene expression needed by Vibrio cholerae to colonize the small intestine and cause disease. Despite its prominence in Vcholerae virulence, our understanding of the direct ToxR regulon is limited to four genes: toxTompTompU and ctxA. Here, we determine ToxR’s genome-wide DNA-binding profile and demonstrate that ToxR is a global regulator of both progenitor genome-encoded genes and horizontally acquired islands that encode Vcholerae’s major virulence factors and define pandemic lineages. We show that ToxR shares more than a third of its regulon with the histone-like nucleoid structuring protein H-NS, and antagonizes H-NS binding at shared binding locations. Importantly, we demonstrate that this regulatory interaction is the critical function of ToxR in Vcholerae colonization and biofilm formation. In the absence of H-NS, ToxR is no longer required for Vcholerae to colonize the infant mouse intestine or for robust biofilm formation. We further illustrate a dramatic difference in regulatory scope between ToxR and other prominent virulence regulators, despite similar predicted requirements for DNA binding. Our results suggest that factors in addition to primary DNA structure influence the ability of ToxR to recognize its target promoters.
Payne SM, Mey AR, Wyckoff EE. Vibrio Iron Transport: Evolutionary Adaptation to Life in Multiple Environments. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2016;80 (1) :69-90.Abstract
Iron is an essential element for Vibrio spp., but the acquisition of iron is complicated by its tendency to form insoluble ferric complexes in nature and its association with high-affinity iron-binding proteins in the host. Vibrios occupy a variety of different niches, and each of these niches presents particular challenges for acquiring sufficient iron. Vibrio species have evolved a wide array of iron transport systems that allow the bacteria to compete for this essential element in each of its habitats. These systems include the secretion and uptake of high-affinity iron-binding compounds (siderophores) as well as transport systems for iron bound to host complexes. Transporters for ferric and ferrous iron not complexed to siderophores are also common to Vibrio species. Some of the genes encoding these systems show evidence of horizontal transmission, and the ability to acquire and incorporate additional iron transport systems may have allowed Vibrio species to more rapidly adapt to new environmental niches. While too little iron prevents growth of the bacteria, too much can be lethal. The appropriate balance is maintained in vibrios through complex regulatory networks involving transcriptional repressors and activators and small RNAs (sRNAs) that act posttranscriptionally. Examination of the number and variety of iron transport systems found in Vibrio spp. offers insights into how this group of bacteria has adapted to such a wide range of habitats.
2015
Wyckoff EE, Allred BE, Raymond KN, Payne SM. Catechol Siderophore Transport by Vibrio cholerae. J Bacteriol. 2015;197 (17) :2840-9.Abstract
UNLABELLED: Siderophores, small iron-binding molecules secreted by many microbial species, capture environmental iron for transport back into the cell. Vibrio cholerae synthesizes and uses the catechol siderophore vibriobactin and also uses siderophores secreted by other species, including enterobactin produced by Escherichia coli. E. coli secretes both canonical cyclic enterobactin and linear enterobactin derivatives likely derived from its cleavage by the enterobactin esterase Fes. We show here that V. cholerae does not use cyclic enterobactin but instead uses its linear derivatives. V. cholerae lacked both a receptor for efficient transport of cyclic enterobactin and enterobactin esterase to promote removal of iron from the ferrisiderophore complex. To further characterize the transport of catechol siderophores, we show that the linear enterobactin derivatives were transported into V. cholerae by either of the catechol siderophore receptors IrgA and VctA, which also transported the synthetic siderophore MECAM [1,3,5-N,N',N″-tris-(2,3-dihydroxybenzoyl)-triaminomethylbenzene]. Vibriobactin is transported via the additional catechol siderophore receptor ViuA, while the Vibrio fluvialis siderophore fluvibactin was transported by all three catechol receptors. ViuB, a putative V. cholerae siderophore-interacting protein (SIP), functionally substituted for the E. coli ferric reductase YqjH, which promotes the release of iron from the siderophore in the bacterial cytoplasm. In V. cholerae, ViuB was required for the use of vibriobactin but was not required for the use of MECAM, fluvibactin, ferrichrome, or the linear derivatives of enterobactin. This suggests the presence of another protein in V. cholerae capable of promoting the release of iron from these siderophores. IMPORTANCE: Vibrio cholerae is a major human pathogen and also serves as a model for the Vibrionaceae, which include other serious human and fish pathogens. The ability of these species to persist and acquire essential nutrients, including iron, in the environment is epidemiologically important but not well understood. In this work, we characterize the ability of V. cholerae to acquire iron by using siderophores produced by other organisms. We resolve confusion in the literature regarding its ability to use the Escherichia coli siderophore enterobactin and identify the receptor and TonB system used for the transport of several siderophores. The use of some siderophores did not require the ferric reductase ViuB, suggesting that an uncharacterized ferric reductase is present in V. cholerae.
Peng ED, Wyckoff EE, Mey AR, Fisher CR, Payne SM. Non-redundant roles of iron acquisition systems in Vibrio cholerae. Infect Immun. 2015.Abstract
Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of the severe diarrheal disease cholera, thrives in both marine environments and the human host. To do so, it must encode the tools necessary to acquire essential nutrients, including iron, under these vastly different conditions. A number of V. cholerae iron acquisition systems have been identified; however, the precise role of each system is not fully understood. To test the roles of individual systems, we generated a series of mutants in which only one of the four systems that support iron acquisition on unsupplemented LB agar, Feo, Fbp, Vct, and Vib, remains functional. Analysis of these mutants under different growth conditions showed that these systems are not redundant. The strain carrying only the ferrous iron transporter Feo grew well at acidic, but not alkaline, pH, whereas the ferric iron transporter Fbp promoted better growth at alkaline than at acidic pH. A strain defective in all four systems (null mutant) had a severe growth defect under aerobic conditions, but accumulated iron and grew as well as the wild type in the absence of oxygen, suggesting the presence of an additional, unidentified iron transporter in V. cholerae. In support of this, the null mutant was only moderately attenuated in an infant mouse model of infection. While the null mutant used heme as an iron source in vitro, we demonstrate that heme is not available to V. cholerae in the infant mouse intestine.
Mey AR, Butz HA, Payne SM. Vibrio cholerae CsrA Regulates ToxR Levels in Response to Amino Acids and Is Essential for Virulence. MBio. 2015;6 (4) :e01064.Abstract
UNLABELLED: ToxR is a major virulence gene regulator in Vibrio cholerae. Although constitutively expressed under many laboratory conditions, our previous work demonstrated that the level of ToxR increases significantly when cells are grown in the presence of the 4 amino acids asparagine, arginine, glutamate, and serine (NRES). We show here that the increase in ToxR production in response to NRES requires the Var/Csr global regulatory circuit. The VarS/VarA two-component system controls the amount of active CsrA, a small RNA-binding protein involved in the regulation of a wide range of cellular processes. Our data show that a varA mutant, which is expected to overproduce active CsrA, had elevated levels of ToxR in the absence of the NRES stimulus. Conversely, specific amino acid substitutions in CsrA were associated with defects in ToxR production in response to NRES. These data indicate that CsrA is a positive regulator of ToxR levels. Unlike previously described effects of CsrA on virulence gene regulation, the effects of CsrA on ToxR were not mediated through quorum sensing and HapR. CsrA is likely essential in V. cholerae, since a complete deletion of csrA was not possible; however, point mutations in CsrA were tolerated well. The CsrA Arg6His mutant had wild-type growth in vitro but was severely attenuated in the infant mouse model of V. cholerae infection, showing that CsrA is critical for pathogenesis. This study has broad implications for our understanding of how V. cholerae integrates its response to environmental cues with the regulation of important virulence genes. IMPORTANCE: In order to colonize the human host, Vibrio cholerae must sense and respond to environmental signals to ensure appropriate expression of genes required for pathogenesis. Uncovering how V. cholerae senses its environment and activates its virulence gene repertoire is critical for our understanding of how V. cholerae transitions from its natural aquatic habitat to the human host. Here we demonstrate a previously unknown link between the global regulator CsrA and the major V. cholerae virulence gene regulator ToxR. The role of CsrA in the cell is to receive input from the environment and coordinate an appropriate cellular response. By linking environmental sensing to the ToxR regulon, CsrA effectively acts as a switch that controls pathogenesis in response to specific signals. We demonstrate that CsrA is critical for virulence in the infant mouse model of V. cholerae infection, consistent with its role as an in vivo regulator of virulence gene expression.
2014
Marman HE, Mey AR, Payne SM. Elongation factor P and modifying enzyme PoxA are necessary for virulence of Shigella flexneri. Infect Immun. 2014;82 (9) :3612-21.Abstract
Elongation factor P (EF-P) is a universally conserved bacterial translation factor. In many bacteria, EF-P is posttranslationally modified by PoxA, which covalently attaches a β-lysine to a conserved lysine residue of EF-P. Here we show that both EF-P and PoxA are necessary for virulence of the human diarrheal pathogen Shigella flexneri. Loss of either EF-P or PoxA leads to an impaired ability of S. flexneri to invade epithelial cells and form plaques in an epithelial cell monolayer. Proteomic analysis of efp and poxA deletion mutants revealed decreased levels of several virulence effector proteins, including IpaA, -B, and -C and IcsA. Additionally, mRNA levels of virB and virF, which encode master virulence regulators, were decreased in the efp mutant. The reduction in virF transcription was at least partially due to decreased levels of CpxA, which activates virF through the response regulator CpxR. The role of CpxAR in reduced synthesis of VirF and its downstream effectors was indicated by restoration of invasion when a mutation resulting in constitutively activated CpxR was introduced into the efp mutant. Thus, modified EF-P is required for appropriate synthesis of proteins involved in the virulence of this bacterial pathogen.
Carpenter C, Payne SM. Regulation of iron transport systems in Enterobacteriaceae in response to oxygen and iron availability. J Inorg Biochem. 2014;133 :110-7.Abstract
Iron is an essential nutrient for most bacteria. Depending on the oxygen available in the surrounding environment, iron is found in two distinct forms: ferrous (Fe(II)) or ferric (Fe(III)). Bacteria utilize different transport systems for the uptake of the two different forms of iron. In oxic growth conditions, iron is found in its insoluble, ferric form, and in anoxic growth conditions iron is found in its soluble, ferrous form. Enterobacteriaceae have adapted to transporting the two forms of iron by utilizing the global, oxygen-sensing regulators, ArcA and Fnr to regulate iron transport genes in response to oxygen.

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