flhDC, the flagellar master operon of Xenorhabdus nematophilus: requirement for motility, lipolysis, extracellular hemolysis, and full virulence in insects.
Xenorhabdus is a major insect pathogen symbiotically associated with nematodes of the family Steinernematidae. This motile bacterium displays swarming behavior on suitable media, but a spontaneous loss of motility is observed as part of a phenomenon designated phase variation which involves the loss of stationary-phase products active as antibiotics and potential virulence factors. To investigate the role of one of the transcriptional activators of flagellar genes, FlhDC, in motility and virulence, the Xenorhabdus nematophilus flhDC locus was identified by functional complementation of an Escherichia coli flhD null mutant and DNA sequencing. Construction of X. nematophilus flhD null mutants confirmed that the flhDC operon controls flagellin expression but also revealed that lipolytic and extracellular hemolysin activity is flhDC dependent. We also showed that the flhD null mutant displayed a slightly attenuated virulence phenotype in Spodoptera littoralis compared to that of the wild-type strain. Thus, these data indicated that motility, lipase, hemolysin, or unknown functions controlled by the flhDC operon are involved in the infectious process in insects. Our investigation expands the view of the flagellar regulon as a checkpoint coupled to a major network involving bacterial physiological aspects as well as motility. (+info)
Inactivation of a novel gene produces a phenotypic variant cell and affects the symbiotic behavior of Xenorhabdus nematophilus.
Xenorhabdus nematophilus is an insect pathogen that lives in a symbiotic association with a specific entomopathogenic nematode. During prolonged culturing, variant cells arise that are deficient in numerous properties. To understand the genetic mechanism underlying variant cell formation, a transposon mutagenesis approach was taken. Three phenotypically similar variant strains of X. nematophilus, each of which contained a single transposon insertion, were isolated. The insertions occurred at different locations in the chromosome. The variant strain, ANV2, was further characterized. It was deficient in several properties, including the ability to produce antibiotics and the stationary-phase-induced outer membrane protein, OpnB. Unlike wild-type cells, ANV2 produced lecithinase. The emergence of ANV2 from the nematode host was delayed relative to the emergence of the parental strain. The transposon in ANV2 had inserted in a gene designated var1, which encodes a novel protein composed of 121 amino acid residues. Complementation analysis confirmed that the pleiotropic phenotype of the ANV2 strain was produced by inactivation of var1. Other variant strains were not complemented by var1. These results indicate that inactivation of a single gene was sufficient to promote variant cell formation in X. nematophilus and that disruption of genetic loci other than var1 can result in the same pleiotropic phenotype. (+info)
Xenorhabdus bovienii T228 phase variation and virulence are independent of RecA function.
Colony pleomorphism, or phase variation, expressed by entomopathogenic bacteria belonging to the genus Xenorhabdus, is an important factor which determines the association of the bacteria with their nematode symbiont and the outcome of infection of susceptible insect larvae by the bacterium- nematode parasitic complex. The mechanism underlying phase variation is unknown. To determine whether RecA-mediated processes are linked to phase variation, the recA gene of Xenorhabdus bovienii was cloned and sequenced. When expressed in a recA-deleted strain of Escherichia coli, the X. bovienii recA clone was able to complement the loss of RecA function. X. bovienii chromosomal recA insertion mutants showed increased sensitivity to UV. Phase 1 forms did not show altered ability to convert to phase 2 and no significant differences in expression of other phase-dependent characteristics, including phospholipase C, haemolysin, protease, antibiotic activity and Congo Red binding, were noted. Furthermore, the LD(50) of the X. bovienii recA insertion mutant for Galleria mellonella larvae was not significantly different from that of wild-type strains. From these data the authors conclude that recA is unlikely to be involved in phase variation, the expression of phase-dependent characteristics, or virulence factors involved in killing of susceptible larvae. (+info)
A new broad-spectrum protease inhibitor from the entomopathogenic bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens.
A new protease inhibitor was purified to apparent homogeneity from a culture medium of Photorhabdus luminescens by ammonium sulfate precipitation and preparative isoelectric focusing followed by affinity chromatography. Ph. luminescens, a bacterium symbiotically associated with the insect-parasitic nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, exists in two morphologically distinguishable phases (primary and secondary). It appears that only the secondary-phase bacterium produces this protease inhibitor. The protease inhibitor has an M:(r) of approximately 12000 as determined by SDS-PAGE. Its activity is stable over a pH range of 3.5-11 and at temperatures below 50 degrees C. The N-terminal 16 amino acids of the protease inhibitor were determined as STGIVTFKND(X)GEDIV and have a very high sequence homology with the N-terminal region of an endogenous inhibitor (IA-1) from the fruiting bodies of an edible mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus. The purified protease inhibitor inactivated the homologous protease with an almost 1:1 stoichiometry. It also inhibited proteases from a related insect-nematode-symbiotic bacterium, Xenorhabdus nematophila. Interestingly, when present at a molar ratio of 5 to 1, this new protease inhibitor completely inactivated the activity of both trypsin and elastase. The activity of proteinase A and cathepsin G was partially inhibited by this bacterial protease inhibitor, but it had no effect on chymotrypsin, subtilisin, thermolysin and cathepsins B and D. The newly isolated protease inhibitor from the secondary-phase bacteria and its specific inhibition of its own protease provides an explanation as to why previous investigators failed to detect the presence of protease activity in the secondary-phase bacteria. The functional implications of the protease inhibitor are also discussed in relation to the physiology of nematode-symbiotic bacteria. (+info)
Sequence analysis of insecticidal genes from Xenorhabdus nematophilus PMFI296.
Three strains of Xenorhabdus nematophilus showed insecticidal activity when fed to Pieris brassicae (cabbage white butterfly) larvae. From one of these strains (X. nematophilus PMFI296) a cosmid genome library was prepared in Escherichia coli and screened for oral insecticidal activity. Two overlapping cosmid clones were shown to encode insecticidal proteins, which had activity when expressed in E. coli (50% lethal concentration [LC(50)] of 2 to 6 microg of total protein/g of diet). The complete sequence of one cosmid (cHRIM1) was obtained. On cHRIM1, five genes (xptA1, -A2, -B1, -C1, and -D1) showed homology with up to 49% identity to insecticidal toxins identified in Photorhabdus luminescens, and also a smaller gene (chi) showed homology to a putative chitinase gene (38% identity). Transposon mutagenesis of the cosmid insert indicated that the genes xptA2, xptD1, and chi were not important for the expression of insecticidal activity toward P. brassicae. One gene (xptA1) was found to be central for the expression of activity, and the genes xptB1 and xptC1 were needed for full activity. The location of these genes together on the chromosome and therefore present on a single cosmid insert probably accounted for the detection of insecticidal activity in this E. coli clone. Although multiple genes may be needed for full activity, E. coli cells expressing the xptA1 gene from the bacteriophage lambda P(L) promoter were shown to have insecticidal activity (LC(50) of 112 microg of total protein/g of diet). This is contrary to the toxin genes identified in P. luminescens, which were not insecticidal when expressed individually in E. coli. High-level gene expression and the use of a sensitive insect may have aided in the detection of insecticidal activity in the E. coli clone expressing xptA1. The location of these toxin genes and the chitinase gene and the presence of mobile elements (insertion sequence) and tRNA genes on cHRIM1 indicates that this region of DNA represents a pathogenicity island on the genome of X. nematophilus PMFI296. (+info)
Two distinct hemolytic activities in Xenorhabdus nematophila are active against immunocompetent insect cells.
Xenorhabdus spp. and Photorhabdus spp. are major insect bacterial pathogens symbiotically associated with nematodes. These bacteria are transported by their nematode hosts into the hemocoel of the insect prey, where they proliferate within hemolymph. In this work we report that wild strains belonging to different species of both genera are able to produce hemolysin activity on blood agar plates. Using a hemocyte monolayer bioassay, cytolytic activity against immunocompetent cells from the hemolymph of Spodoptera littoralis (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) was found only in supernatants of Xenorhabdus; none was detected in supernatants of various strains of Photorhabdus. During in vitro bacterial growth of Xenorhabdus nematophila F1, two successive bursts of cytolytic activity were detected. The first extracellular cytolytic activity occurred when bacterial cells reached the stationary phase. It also displayed a hemolytic activity on sheep red blood cells, and it was heat labile. Among insect hemocyte types, granulocytes were the preferred target. Lysis of hemocytes by necrosis was preceded by a dramatic vacuolization of the cells. In contrast the second burst of cytolytic activity occurred late during stationary phase and caused hemolysis of rabbit red blood cells, and insect plasmatocytes were the preferred target. This second activity is heat resistant and produced shrinkage and necrosis of hemocytes. Insertional inactivation of flhD gene in X. nematophila leads to the loss of hemolysis activity on sheep red blood cells and an attenuated virulence phenotype in S. littoralis (A. Givaudan and A. Lanois, J. Bacteriol. 182:107-115, 2000). This mutant was unable to produce the early cytolytic activity, but it always displayed the late cytolytic effect, preferably active on plasmatocytes. Thus, X. nematophila produced two independent cytolytic activities against different insect cell targets known for their major role in cellular immunity. (+info)
Xenorhabdus nematophilus as a model for host-bacterium interactions: rpoS is necessary for mutualism with nematodes.
Xenorhabdus nematophilus, a gram-negative bacterium, is a mutualist of Steinernema carpocapsae nematodes and a pathogen of larval-stage insects. We use this organism as a model of host-microbe interactions to identify the functions bacteria require for mutualism, pathogenesis, or both. In many gram-negative bacteria, the transcription factor sigma(S) controls regulons that can mediate stress resistance, survival, or host interactions. Therefore, we examined the role of sigma(S) in the ability of X. nematophilus to interact with its hosts. We cloned, sequenced, and disrupted the X. nematophilus rpoS gene that encodes sigma(S). The X. nematophilus rpoS mutant pathogenized insects as well as its wild-type parent. However, the rpoS mutant could not mutualistically colonize nematode intestines. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a specific allele that affects the ability of X. nematophilus to exist within nematode intestines, an important step in understanding the molecular mechanisms of this association. (+info)
Purification and characterization of an extracellular protease from Xenorhabdus nematophila involved in insect immunosuppression.
Xenorhabdus nematophila, a bacterium pathogenic for insects associated with the nematode Steinernema carpocapsae, releases high quantities of proteases, which may participate in the virulence against insects. Zymogram assays and cross-reactions of antibodies suggested that two distinct proteases were present. The major one, protease II, was purified and shown to have a molecular mass of 60 kDa and an estimated isoelectric point of 8.5. Protease II digested the chromogenic substrate N-tosyl-Gly-Pro-Arg-paranitroanilide (pNA) with V(max) and K(m) values of 0.0551 microM/min and 234 microM, respectively, and the substrate DL-Val-Leu-Arg-pNA with V(max) and K(m) values of 0.3830 microM/min and 429 microM, respectively. Protease II activity was inhibited 93% by Pefabloc SC and 45% by chymostatin. The optimum pH for protease II was 7, and the optimum temperature was 23C. Proteolytic activity was reduced by 90% at 60 degrees C for 10 min. Sequence analysis was performed on four internal peptides that resulted from the digestion of protease II. Fragments 29 and 45 are 75 and 68% identical to alkaline metalloproteinase produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Fragment 29 is 79% identical to a metalloprotease of Erwinia amylovora and 75% identical to the protease C precursor of Erwinia chrysanthemi. Protease II showed no toxicity to hemocytes but destroyed antibacterial activity on the hemolymph of inoculated insects' larvae and reduced 97% of the cecropin A bacteriolytic activity. (+info)