Dynamics of plasmid-mediated niche invasion, immunity to invasion, and pheromone-inducible conjugation in the murine gastrointestinal tract

Helmut Hirt, Kerryl E. Greenwood-Quaintance, Aaron M.T. Barnes, Melissa J. Karau, Lisa M. Till, Elise Palzer, Weihua Guan, Michael S. VanNieuwenhze, Purna C. Kashyap, Robin Patel, Gary M. Dunny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Microbial communities provide protection to their hosts by resisting pathogenic invasion. Microbial residents of a host often exclude subsequent colonizers, but this protection is not well understood. The Enterococcus faecalis plasmid pCF10, whose conjugative transfer functions are induced by a peptide pheromone, efficiently transfers in the intestinal tract of mice. Here we show that an invading donor strain established in the gastrointestinal tract of mice harboring resident recipients, resulting in a stable, mixed population comprised of approximately 10% donors and 90% recipients. We also show that the plasmid-encoded surface protein PrgB (Aggregation Substance), enhanced donor invasion of resident recipients, and resistance of resident donors to invasion by recipients. Imaging of the gastrointestinal mucosa of mice infected with differentially labeled recipients and donors revealed pheromone induction within microcolonies harboring both strains in close proximity, suggesting that adherent microcolonies on the mucosal surface of the intestine comprise an important niche for cell-cell signaling and plasmid transfer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1377
JournalNature communications
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Michael Travisano and William Harcombe for their input and critical review of the manuscript, as well as Tim Leonard for assistance with graphics. This work was supported by PHS grants 1R35GM118079 to G.M.D. and R35 GM 136365 to M.S.VN., with additional support for A.M.T.B via NIH training grant AI055433.

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Michael Travisano and William Harcombe for their input and critical review of the manuscript, as well as Tim Leonard for assistance with graphics. This work was supported by PHS grants 1R35GM118079 to G.M.D. and R35 GM 136365 to M.S.VN., with additional support for A.M.T.B via NIH training grant AI055433.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins/genetics
  • Conjugation, Genetic
  • Enterococcus faecalis/genetics
  • Intestines
  • Mice
  • Pheromones/metabolism
  • Plasmids/genetics

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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