3 years ago

A trehalose biosynthetic enzyme doubles as an osmotic stress sensor to regulate bacterial morphogenesis

Lizhe An, Guangxiu Liu, Paul Dyson, Tuo Chen, Shukun Tang, Wei Hu, Jianxi Xiao, Xiaochuan Fan, Tao Qu, Furong Ju, Ximing Chen, Liping Guan, Binglin Zhang, Haili Sun
The dissacharide trehalose is an important intracellular osmoprotectant and the OtsA/B pathway is the principal pathway for trehalose biosynthesis in a wide range of bacterial species. Scaffolding proteins and other cytoskeletal elements play an essential role in morphogenetic processes in bacteria. Here we describe how OtsA, in addition to its role in trehalose biosynthesis, functions as an osmotic stress sensor to regulate cell morphology in Arthrobacter strain A3. In response to osmotic stress, this and other Arthrobacter species undergo a transition from bacillary to myceloid growth. An otsA null mutant exhibits constitutive myceloid growth. Osmotic stress leads to a depletion of trehalose-6-phosphate, the product of the OtsA enzyme, and experimental depletion of this metabolite also leads to constitutive myceloid growth independent of OtsA function. In vitro analyses indicate that OtsA can self-assemble into protein networks, promoted by trehalose-6-phosphate, a property that is not shared by the equivalent enzyme from E. coli, despite the latter’s enzymatic activity when expressed in Arthrobacter. This, and the localization of the protein in non-stressed cells at the mid-cell and poles, indicates that OtsA from Arthrobacter likely functions as a cytoskeletal element regulating cell morphology. Recruiting a biosynthetic enzyme for this morphogenetic function represents an intriguing adaptation in bacteria that can survive in extreme environments.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007062

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