Publications by Year: 2023

Kago G, Turnbough CL, Salazar JC, Payne SM. (p)ppGpp is required for virulence of Shigella flexneri. Infection and Immunity [Internet]. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Infection by the enteric pathogen Shigella flexneri requires transit through the gastrointestinal tract and invasion of and replication within the cells of the host colonic epithelium. This process exposes the pathogen to a range of diverse microenvironments. Furthermore, the unique composition and physical environment of the eukaryotic cell cytosol represents a stressful environment for S. flexneri, and extensive physiological adaptations are needed for the bacterium to thrive. In this work, we show that disrupting synthesis of the stringent response alarmone (p)ppGpp in S. flexneri diminished expression of key virulence genes, including ipaA, ipaB, ipaC, and icsA, and it reduced bacterial invasion and intercellular spread. Deletion of the (p)ppGpp synthase gene relA alone had no effect on S. flexneri virulence, but disruption of both relA and the (p)ppGpp synthase/hydrolase gene spoT resulted in loss of (p)ppGpp synthesis and virulence. While the relA spoT deletion mutant was able to invade a cultured human epithelial cell monolayer, albeit at reduced levels, it was unable to maintain the infection and spread to adjacent cells, as indicated by loss of plaque formation. Complementation with spoT on a plasmid vector restored plaque formation. Thus, SpoT alone is sufficient to provide the necessary level of (p)ppGpp for virulence. These results indicate that (p)ppGpp is required for S. flexneri virulence and adaptation to the intracellular environment, adding to the repertoire of signaling pathways that affect Shigella pathogenesis.
Gómez-Garzón C, Payne SM. Divide and conquer: genetics, mechanism, and evolution of the ferrous iron transporter Feo in Helicobacter pylori. Frontiers in Microbiology; Sec. Infectious Agents and Disease [Internet]. 14 :1-17. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Feo is the most widespread and conserved system for ferrous iron uptake in bacteria, and it is important for virulence in several gastrointestinal pathogens. However, its mechanism remains poorly understood. Hitherto, most studies regarding the Feo system were focused on Gammaproteobacterial models, which possess three feo genes (feoA, B, and C) clustered in an operon. We found that the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori possesses a unique arrangement of the feo genes, in which only feoA and feoB are present and encoded in distant loci. In this study, we examined the functional significance of this arrangement.

Kostiuk B, Becker ME, Churaman CN, Black JJ, Payne SM, Pukatzki S, Koestler BJ. Vibrio cholerae Alkalizes Its Environment via Citrate Metabolism to Inhibit Enteric Growth In Vitro. Microbiology Spectrum [Internet]. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Vibrio cholerae is a Gram-negative pathogen, living in constant competition with other bacteria in marine environments and during human infection. One competitive advantage of V. cholerae is the ability to metabolize diverse carbon sources, such as chitin and citrate. We observed that when some V. cholerae strains were grown on a medium with citrate, the medium’s chemical composition turned into a hostile alkaline environment for Gram-negative bacteria, such as Escherichia coli and Shigella flexneri. We found that although the ability to exclude competing bacteria was not contingent on exogenous citrate, V. cholerae C6706 citrate metabolism mutants ΔoadA-1, ΔcitE, and ΔcitF were not able to inhibit S. flexneri or E. coli growth. Lastly, we demonstrated that while the V. cholerae C6706-mediated increased medium pH was necessary for the enteric exclusion phenotype, secondary metabolites, such as bicarbonate (protonated to carbonate in the raised pH) from the metabolism of citrate, enhanced the ability to inhibit the growth of E. coli. These data provide a novel example of how V. cholerae outcompetes other Gram-negative bacteria.