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      Cyclic di-GMP-dependent Signaling Pathways in the Pathogenic Firmicute Listeria monocytogenes

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          We characterized key components and major targets of the c-di-GMP signaling pathways in the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, identified a new c-di-GMP-inducible exopolysaccharide responsible for motility inhibition, cell aggregation, and enhanced tolerance to disinfectants and desiccation, and provided first insights into the role of c-di-GMP signaling in listerial virulence. Genome-wide genetic and biochemical analyses of c-di-GMP signaling pathways revealed that L. monocytogenes has three GGDEF domain proteins, DgcA (Lmo1911), DgcB (Lmo1912) and DgcC (Lmo2174), that possess diguanylate cyclase activity, and three EAL domain proteins, PdeB (Lmo0131), PdeC (Lmo1914) and PdeD (Lmo0111), that possess c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase activity. Deletion of all phosphodiesterase genes ( ΔpdeB/C/D) or expression of a heterologous diguanylate cyclase stimulated production of a previously unknown exopolysaccharide. The synthesis of this exopolysaccharide was attributed to the pssA-E ( lmo0527-0531) gene cluster. The last gene of the cluster encodes the fourth listerial GGDEF domain protein, PssE, that functions as an I-site c-di-GMP receptor essential for exopolysaccharide synthesis. The c-di-GMP-inducible exopolysaccharide causes cell aggregation in minimal medium and impairs bacterial migration in semi-solid agar, however, it does not promote biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces. The exopolysaccharide also greatly enhances bacterial tolerance to commonly used disinfectants as well as desiccation, which may contribute to survival of L. monocytogenes on contaminated food products and in food-processing facilities. The exopolysaccharide and another, as yet unknown c-di-GMP-dependent target, drastically decrease listerial invasiveness in enterocytes in vitro, and lower pathogen load in the liver and gallbladder of mice infected via an oral route, which suggests that elevated c-di-GMP levels play an overall negative role in listerial virulence.

          Author Summary

          Listeria monocytogenes is ubiquitously present in the environment, highly adaptable and tolerant to various stresses. L. monocytogenes is also a foodborne pathogen associated with the largest foodborne outbreaks in recent US history. Signaling pathways involving the second messenger c-di-GMP play important roles in increased stress survival of proteobacteria and mycobacteria, yet roles of c-di-GMP signaling pathways in L. monocytogenes have remained unexplored. Here, we identified and systematically characterized functions of the proteins involved in c-di-GMP synthesis, degradation and sensing. We show that elevated c-di-GMP levels in L. monocytogenes result in synthesis of a previously unknown exopolysaccharide that promotes cell aggregation, inhibits motility in semi-solid media, and importantly, enhances bacterial tolerance to commonly used disinfectants as well as desiccation. These properties of the exopolysaccharide may increase listerial survival in food processing plants as well as on produce during transportation and storage. Elevated c-di-GMP levels also grossly diminish listerial invasiveness in enterocytes in vitro, and impair bacterial accumulation in selected mouse organs during oral infection.

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          Most cited references 61

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          c-di-AMP secreted by intracellular Listeria monocytogenes activates a host type I interferon response.

          Intracellular bacterial pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes, are detected in the cytosol of host immune cells. Induction of this host response is often dependent on microbial secretion systems and, in L. monocytogenes, is dependent on multidrug efflux pumps (MDRs). Using L. monocytogenes mutants that overexpressed MDRs, we identified cyclic diadenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) as a secreted molecule able to trigger the cytosolic host response. Overexpression of the di-adenylate cyclase, dacA (lmo2120), resulted in elevated levels of the host response during infection. c-di-AMP thus represents a putative bacterial secondary signaling molecule that triggers a cytosolic pathway of innate immunity and is predicted to be present in a wide variety of bacteria and archea.
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            Analysis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa diguanylate cyclases and phosphodiesterases reveals a role for bis-(3'-5')-cyclic-GMP in virulence.

            The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is responsible for systemic infections in immunocompromised individuals and chronic respiratory disease in patients with cystic fibrosis. Cyclic nucleotides are known to play a variety of roles in the regulation of virulence-related factors in pathogenic bacteria. A set of P. aeruginosa genes, encoding proteins that contain putative domains characteristic of diguanylate cyclases (DGCs) and phosphodiesterases (PDEs) that are responsible for the maintenance of cellular levels of the second messenger bis-(3'-5')-cyclic dimeric GMP (c-di-GMP) was identified in the annotated genomes of P. aeruginosa strains PAO1 and PA14. Although the majority of these genes are components of the P. aeruginosa core genome, several are located on presumptive horizontally acquired genomic islands. A comprehensive analysis of P. aeruginosa genes encoding the enzymes of c-di-GMP metabolism (DGC- and PDE-encoding genes) was carried out to analyze the function of c-di-GMP in two disease-related phenomena, cytotoxicity and biofilm formation. Analysis of the phenotypes of DGC and PDE mutants and overexpressing clones revealed that certain virulence-associated traits are controlled by multiple DGCs and PDEs through alterations in c-di-GMP levels. A set of mutants in selected DGC- and PDE-encoding genes exhibited attenuated virulence in a mouse infection model. Given that insertions in different DGC and PDE genes result in distinct phenotypes, it seems likely that the formation or degradation of c-di-GMP by these enzymes is in highly localized and intimately linked to particular targets of c-di-GMP action.
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              Crystallographic snapshot of cellulose synthesis and membrane translocation

              Cellulose, the most abundant biological macromolecule, is an extracellular, linear polymer of glucose molecules. It represents an essential component of plant cell walls but is also found in algae and bacteria. In bacteria, cellulose production frequently correlates with the formation of biofilms, a sessile, multicellular growth form. Cellulose synthesis and transport across the inner bacterial membrane is mediated by a complex of the multi-spanning catalytic BcsA subunit and the membrane-anchored, periplasmic BcsB protein. Here we present the crystal structure of a complex of BcsA and BcsB from Rhodobacter sphaeroides containing a translocating polysaccharide. The structure of the BcsA-B translocation intermediate reveals the architecture of the cellulose synthase, demonstrates how BcsA forms a cellulose-conducting channel, and suggests a model for the coupling of cellulose synthesis and translocation in which the nascent polysaccharide is extended by one glucose molecule at a time.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Pathog
                PLoS Pathog
                PLoS Pathogens
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                August 2014
                7 August 2014
                : 10
                : 8
                [1 ]Department of Molecular Biology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, United States of America
                [2 ]Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, United States of America
                University of Michigan Medical School, United States of America
                Author notes

                The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: SEFDO KWM MG. Performed the experiments: LHC VKK ZTG TMM JMR. Analyzed the data: LHC VKK ZTG TMM JMR SEFDO KWM MG. Wrote the paper: LHC VKK ZTG SEFDO KWM MG.


                Current address: College of Agriculture, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Hohhot, People's Republic of China


                Current address: Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America


                Current address: Integrative Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States of America


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 15
                This work was supported in part by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from The China Scholarship Council (to LHC), and by grants from United States National Science Foundation (MCB1052575 to MG), National Institutes of Health (AI091918 to SEFD), and University of Wyoming Agriculture Experimental Station (to KWM and MG). JMR was a recipient of undergraduate research scholarships from the National Science Foundation Wyoming Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the Wyoming National Aeronautics and Space Administration Space Grant Consortium. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Medicine and Health Sciences
                Infectious Diseases

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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