An intramembrane sensory circuit monitors sortase A-mediated processing of streptococcal adhesins

Jeffrey W. Hall, Bruno P. Lima, Gaetan G. Herbomel, Tata Gopinath, Le Anna McDonald, Michael T. Shyne, John K. Lee, Jens Kreth, Karen F. Ross, Gianluigi Veglia, Mark C. Herzberg

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Bacterial adhesins mediate adhesion to substrates and biofilm formation. Adhesins of the LPXTG family are posttranslationally processed by the cell membrane-localized peptidase sortase A, which cleaves the LPXTG motif. This generates a short C-terminal peptide (C-pep) that remains in the cell membrane, whereas the mature adhesin is incorporated into the cell wall. Genes encoding adhesins of the oral bacterium Streptococcus gordonii were differentially expressed depending on whether the bacteria were isolated from saliva or dental plaque and appeared to be coordinately regulated. Deletion of sspA and sspB (sspAB), both of which encode LPXTG-containing adhesins, unexpectedly enhanced adhesion and biofilm formation. C-peps produced from a model LPXTG-containing adhesin localized to the cell membrane and bound to and inhibited the intramembrane sensor histidine kinase SGO_1180, thus preventing activation of the cognate response regulator SGO_1181. The absence of SspAB C-peps induced the expression of the scaCBA operon encoding the lipoprotein adhesin ScaA, which was sufficient to preserve and even enhance biofilm formation. This C-pep-driven regulatory circuit also exists in pathogenic streptococci and is likely conserved among Gram-positive bacteria. This quality control mechanism ensures that the bacteria can form biofilms under diverse environmental conditions and may play a role in optimizing adhesion and biofilm formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaas9941
JournalScience signaling
Issue number580
StatePublished - May 7 2019

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