Vibrio cholerae encodes a small RNA with homology to Escherichia coli RyhB. Like E. coli ryhB, V. cholerae ryhB is negatively regulated by iron and Fur and is required for repression of genes encoding the superoxide dismutase SodB and multiple tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes. However, V. cholerae RyhB is considerably longer (>200 nucleotides) than the E. coli RNA (90 nucleotides), and it regulates the expression of a variety of genes that are not known to be regulated by RyhB in E. coli, including genes involved in motility, chemotaxis, and biofilm formation. A mutant with a deletion in ryhB had reduced chemotactic motility in low-iron medium and was unable to form wild-type biofilms. The defect in biofilm formation was suppressed by growing the mutant in the presence of excess iron or succinate. The wild-type strain showed reduced biofilm formation in iron-deficient medium, further supporting a role for iron in normal biofilm formation. The ryhB mutant was not defective for colonization in a mouse model and appeared to be at a slight advantage when competing with the wild-type parental strain. Other genes whose expression was influenced by RyhB included those encoding the outer membrane porins OmpT and OmpU, several iron transport systems, and proteins containing heme or iron-sulfur clusters. These data indicate that V. cholerae RyhB has diverse functions, ranging from iron homeostasis to the regulation of biofilm formation.
Shigella flexneri requires iron for survival, and the genes for iron uptake and homeostasis are regulated by the Fur protein. Microarrays were used to identify genes regulated by Fur and to study the physiological effects of iron availability in S. flexneri. These assays showed that the expression of genes involved in iron acquisition and acid response was induced by low-iron availability and by inactivation of fur. A fur null mutant was acid sensitive in media at pH 2.5, and acid sensitivity was also observed in the wild-type strain grown under iron-limiting conditions. Acid resistance of the fur mutant in minimal medium was restored by addition of glutamate during acid challenge, indicating that the glutamate-dependent acid resistance system was not defective. Inactivation of ryhB, a small regulatory RNA whose expression is repressed by Fur, restored acid resistance in the fur mutant, while overexpressing ryhB increased acid sensitivity in the wild-type strain. RyhB-regulated genes were identified by microarray analysis. The expression of one of the RyhB-repressed genes, ydeP, which encodes a putative oxidoreductase, suppressed acid sensitivity in the fur mutant. Furthermore, an S. flexneri ydeP mutant was defective for both glutamate-independent and glutamate-dependent acid resistance. The repression of ydeP by RyhB may be indirect, as real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) experiments indicated that RyhB negatively regulates evgA, which encodes an activator of ydeP. These results demonstrate that the acid sensitivity defect of the S. flexneri fur mutant is due to repression of ydeP by RyhB, most likely via repression of evgA.
Regulation of iron uptake and utilization is critical for bacterial growth and for prevention of iron toxicity. In many bacterial species, this regulation depends on the iron-responsive master regulator Fur. In this study we report the effects of iron and Fur on gene expression in Vibrio cholerae. We show that Fur has both positive and negative regulatory functions, and we demonstrate Fur-independent regulation of gene expression by iron. Nearly all of the known iron acquisition genes were repressed by Fur under iron-replete conditions. In addition, genes for two newly identified iron transport systems, Feo and Fbp, were found to be negatively regulated by iron and Fur. Other genes identified in this study as being induced in low iron and in the fur mutant include those encoding superoxide dismutase (sodA), fumarate dehydratase (fumC), bacterioferritin (bfr), bacterioferritin-associated ferredoxin (bfd), and multiple genes of unknown function. Several genes encoding iron-containing proteins were repressed in low iron and in the fur mutant, possibly reflecting the need to reserve available iron for the most critical functions. Also repressed in the fur mutant, but independently of iron, were genes located in the V. cholerae pathogenicity island, encoding the toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP), and genes within the V. cholerae mega-integron. The fur mutant exhibited very weak autoagglutination, indicating a possible defect in expression or assembly of the TCP, a major virulence factor of V. cholerae. Consistent with this observation, the fur mutant competed poorly with its wild-type parental strain for colonization of the infant mouse gut.
In response to the host cell environment, the intracellular pathogen Shigella flexneri induces the expression of numerous genes, including those in the pst operon which is predicted to encode a high-affinity phosphate acquisition system that is expressed under reduced phosphate conditions. An S. flexneri pst mutant forms smaller plaques in Henle cell monolayers than does the parental strain. This mutant exhibited normal production and localization of the S. flexneri IcsA protein. The pst mutant had the same growth rate as the parental strain in both phosphate-reduced and phosphate-replete media in vitro and during the first 3 h of growth in Henle cells in vivo. During growth in phosphate-replete media, the PhoB regulon was constitutively expressed in the pst mutant but not the parental strain. This suggested that the inability of the S. flexneri pst mutant to form wild-type plaques in Henle cell monolayers may be due to aberrant expression of the PhoB regulon. A mutation in phoB was constructed in the S. flexneri pst mutant, and the phoB mutation suppressed the small plaque phenotype of the pst mutant. Additionally, a specific mutation (R220Q) was constructed in the pstA gene of the pst operon that was predicted to eliminate Pst-mediated phosphate transport but allow normal PhoB-regulated gene expression, based on the phenotype of an Escherichia coli strain harboring the same mutation. Addition of this pstA(R220Q) mutation to a S. flexneri pst mutant, as part of the pst operon, restored normal plaque formation and regulation of phoA expression.
Shigella dysenteriae serotype 1, a major cause of bacillary dysentery in humans, can use heme as a source of iron. Genes for the transport of heme into the bacterial cell have been identified, but little is known about proteins that control the fate of the heme molecule after it has entered the cell. The shuS gene is located within the heme transport locus, downstream of the heme receptor gene shuA. ShuS is a heme binding protein, but its role in heme utilization is poorly understood. In this work, we report the construction of a chromosomal shuS mutant. The shuS mutant was defective in utilizing heme as an iron source. At low heme concentrations, the shuS mutant grew slowly and its growth was stimulated by either increasing the heme concentration or by providing extra copies of the heme receptor shuA on a plasmid. At intermediate heme concentrations, the growth of the shuS mutant was moderately impaired, and at high heme concentrations, shuS was required for growth on heme. The shuS mutant did not show increased sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide, even at high heme concentrations. ShuS was also required for optimal utilization of heme under microaerobic and anaerobic conditions. These data are consistent with the model in which ShuS binds heme in a soluble, nontoxic form and potentially transfers the heme from the transport proteins in the membrane to either heme-containing or heme-degrading proteins. ShuS did not appear to store heme for future use.