Shigella flexneri is a facultative intracellular pathogen that invades and disrupts the colonic epithelium. In order to thrive in the host, S. flexneri must adapt to environmental conditions in the gut and within the eukaryotic cytosol, including variability in the available carbon sources and other nutrients. We examined the roles of the carbon consumption regulators CsrA and Cra in a cell culture model of S. flexneri virulence. CsrA is an activator of glycolysis and a repressor of gluconeogenesis, and a csrA mutant had decreased attachment and invasion of cultured cells. Conversely, Cra represses glycolysis and activates gluconeogenesis, and the cra mutant had an increase in both attachment and invasion compared to the wild-type strain. Both mutants were defective in plaque formation. The importance of the glycolytic pathway in invasion and plaque formation was confirmed by testing the effect of a mutation in the glycolysis gene pfkA. The pfkA mutant was noninvasive and had cell surface alterations as indicated by decreased sensitivity to SDS and an altered lipopolysaccharide profile. The loss of invasion by the csrA and pfkA mutants was due to decreased expression of the S. flexneri virulence factor regulators virF and virB, resulting in decreased production of Shigella invasion plasmid antigens (Ipa). These data indicate that regulation of carbon metabolism and expression of the glycolysis gene pfkA are critical for synthesis of the virulence gene regulators VirF and VirB, and both the glycolytic and gluconeogenic pathways influence steps in S. flexneri invasion and plaque formation.
Sibling Paenibacillus dendritiformis bacterial colonies grown on low-nutrient agar medium mutually inhibit growth through secretion of a lethal factor. Analysis of secretions reveals the presence of subtilisin (a protease) and a 12 kDa protein, termed sibling lethal factor (Slf). Purified subtilisin promotes the growth and expansion of P. dendritiformis colonies, whereas Slf is lethal and lyses P. dendritiformis cells in culture. Slf is encoded by a gene belonging to a large family of bacterial genes of unknown function, and the gene is predicted to encode a protein of approximately 20 kDa, termed dendritiformis sibling bacteriocin. The 20 kDa recombinant protein was produced and found to be inactive, but exposure to subtilisin resulted in cleavage to the active, 12 kDa form. The experimental results, combined with mathematical modeling, show that subtilisin serves to regulate growth of the colony. Below a threshold concentration, subtilisin promotes colony growth and expansion. However, once it exceeds a threshold, as occurs at the interface between competing colonies, Slf is then secreted into the medium to rapidly reduce cell density by lysis of the bacterial cells. The presence of genes encoding homologs of dendritiformis sibling bacteriocin in other bacterial species suggests that this mechanism for self-regulation of colony growth might not be limited to P. dendritiformis.