The Gram-negative envelope is a complex structure that consists of the inner membrane, the periplasm, peptidoglycan and the outer membrane, and protects the bacterial cell from the environment. Changing environmental conditions can cause damage, which triggers the envelope stress responses to maintain cellular homeostasis. In this Review, we explore the causes, both environmental and intrinsic, of envelope stress, as well as the cellular stress response pathways that counter these stresses. Furthermore, we discuss the damage to the cell that occurs when these pathways are aberrantly activated either in the absence of stress or to an excessive degree. Finally, we review the mechanisms whereby the σ response constantly acts to prevent cell death caused by highly toxic unfolded outer membrane proteins. Together, the recent work that we discuss has provided insights that emphasize the necessity for proper levels of stress response activation and the detrimental consequences that can occur in the absence of proper regulation.
The development of new antimicrobial drugs is a priority to combat the increasing spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria. This development is especially problematic in gram-negative bacteria due to the outer membrane (OM) permeability barrier and multidrug efflux pumps. Therefore, we screened for compounds that target essential, nonredundant, surface-exposed processes in gram-negative bacteria. We identified a compound, MRL-494, that inhibits assembly of OM proteins (OMPs) by the β-barrel assembly machine (BAM complex). The BAM complex contains one essential surface-exposed protein, BamA. We constructed a mutagenesis library, screened for resistance to MRL-494, and identified the mutation BamA restores OMP biogenesis in the presence of MRL-494. The mutant protein has both altered conformation and activity, suggesting it could either inhibit MRL-494 binding or allow BamA to function in the presence of MRL-494. By cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA), we determined that MRL-494 stabilizes BamA and BamA from thermally induced aggregation, indicating direct or proximal binding to both BamA and BamA Thus, it is the altered activity of BamA responsible for resistance to MRL-494. Strikingly, MRL-494 possesses a second mechanism of action that kills gram-positive organisms. In microbes lacking an OM, MRL-494 lethally disrupts the cytoplasmic membrane. We suggest that the compound cannot disrupt the cytoplasmic membrane of gram-negative bacteria because it cannot penetrate the OM. Instead, MRL-494 inhibits OMP biogenesis from outside the OM by targeting BamA. The identification of a small molecule that inhibits OMP biogenesis at the cell surface represents a distinct class of antibacterial agents.
The Gram-negative outer membrane (OM) is a selectively permeable asymmetric bilayer that allows vital nutrients to diffuse into the cell but prevents toxins and hydrophobic molecules from entering. Functionally and structurally diverse β-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs) build and maintain the permeability barrier, making the assembly of OMPs crucial for cell viability. In this work, we characterize an assembly-defective mutant of the maltoporin LamB, LamB We show that the folding defect of LamB results in an accumulation of unfolded substrate that is toxic to the cell when the periplasmic protease DegP is removed. Selection for suppressors of this toxicity identified the novel mutant allele. The mutant DegS protein contains an amino acid substitution at the PDZ/protease domain interface that results in a partially activated conformation of this protein. This activation increases basal levels of downstream σ stress response signaling. Furthermore, the enhanced σ activity of DegS suppresses a number of other assembly-defective conditions without exhibiting the toxicity associated with high levels of σ activity. We propose that the increased basal levels of σ signaling primes the cell to respond to envelope stress before OMP assembly defects threaten cell viability. This finding addresses the importance of envelope stress responses in monitoring the OMP assembly process and underpins the critical balance between envelope defects and stress response activation. Gram-negative bacteria, such as , inhabit a natural environment that is prone to flux. In order to cope with shifting growth conditions and the changing availability of nutrients, cells must be capable of quickly responding to stress. Stress response pathways allow cells to rapidly shift gene expression profiles to ensure survival in this unpredictable environment. Here we describe a mutant that partially activates the σ stress response pathway. The elevated basal level of this stress response allows the cell to quickly respond to overwhelming stress to ensure cell survival.
Cells in all domains of life must translocate newly synthesized proteins both across membranes and into membranes. In eukaryotes, proteins are translocated into the lumen of the ER or the ER membrane. In prokaryotes, proteins are translocated into the cytoplasmic membrane or through the membrane into the periplasm for Gram-negative bacteria or the extracellular space for Gram-positive bacteria. Much of what we know about protein translocation was learned through genetic selections and screens utilizing lacZ gene fusions in Escherichia coli. This review covers the basic principles of protein translocation and how they were discovered and developed. In particular, we discuss how lacZ gene fusions and the phenotypes conferred were exploited to identify the genes involved in protein translocation and provide insights into their mechanisms of action. These approaches, which allowed the elucidation of processes that are conserved throughout the domains of life, illustrate the power of seemingly simple experiments.
Like all outer membrane (OM) constituents, integral OM β-barrel proteins in Gram-negative bacteria are synthesized in the cytoplasm and trafficked to the OM, where they are locally assembled into the growing OM by the ubiquitous β-barrel assembly machine (Bam). While the identities and structures of all essential and accessory Bam components have been determined, the basic mechanism of Bam-assisted OM protein integration remains elusive. Here we review mechanistic analyses of OM β-barrel protein folding and Bam dynamics and summarize recent insights that inform a general model for OM protein recognition and assembly by the Bam complex.
The selective permeability of the Gram-negative outer membrane (OM) is maintained by integral β-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs). The heteropentomeric β-barrel assembly machine (Bam) folds and inserts OMPs into the OM. Coordination of the essential proteins BamA and BamD is critical for OMP assembly and therefore the viability of the cell. The role of the nonessential lipoproteins BamBCE has yet to be characterized; however, genetic evidence suggests that they have nonoverlapping roles in OMP assembly. In this work, we quantify changes of the proteome in the conditional lethal Δ Δ double mutant. We show that cells lacking BamB and BamE have a global OMP defect that is a result of a lethal obstruction of an assembly-competent Bam complex by the lipoprotein RcsF. RcsF is a stress-sensing lipoprotein that is threaded through the lumen of abundant β-barrel OMPs by the Bam complex to expose the amino terminus on the cell surface. We demonstrate that simply removing this lipoprotein corrects the severe OMP assembly defect of the double mutant nearly as efficiently as a previously isolated suppressor mutation in We propose that BamB and BamE play crucial, nonoverlapping roles to coordinate the activities of BamA and BamD during OMP biogenesis. Protein assembly into lipid bilayers is an essential process that ensures the viability of diverse organisms. In Gram-negative bacteria, the heteropentomeric β-barrel assembly machine (Bam) folds and inserts proteins into the outer membrane. Due to its essentiality, outer membrane protein (OMP) assembly by the Bam complex is an attractive target for antibiotic development. Here, we show that the conditional lethal phenotype of a mutant lacking two of the three nonessential lipoproteins, BamB and BamE, is caused by lethal jamming of the stripped-down Bam complex by a normally surface-exposed lipoprotein, RcsF. The heterotrimeric Bam complex (BamA, BamD, BamC) is nearly as efficient as the wild-type complex in OMP assembly if RcsF is removed. Our study highlights the importance of BamB and BamE in regulating the interaction between BamA and BamD and expands our understanding of the role of the Bam complex in outer membrane biogenesis.
Gram-negative bacteria have an outer membrane (OM) impermeable to many toxic compounds that can be further strengthened during stress. In , the envelope contains enterobacterial common antigen (ECA), a carbohydrate-derived moiety conserved throughout , the function of which is poorly understood. Previously, we identified several genes in K-12 responsible for an RpoS-dependent decrease in envelope permeability during carbon-limited stationary phase. For one of these, , a gene of unknown function, deletion causes high levels of both vancomycin and detergent sensitivity, independent of growth phase. We isolated spontaneous suppressor mutants of with loss-of-function mutations in the ECA biosynthesis operon. ECA biosynthesis gene deletions suppressed envelope permeability from deletion independently of envelope stress responses and interactions with other biosynthesis pathways, demonstrating suppression is caused directly by removing ECA. Furthermore, deletion changed cellular ECA levels and was found to co-occur phylogenetically with the ECA biosynthesis operon. Cells make three forms of ECA: ECA lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an ECA chain linked to LPS core; ECA phosphatidylglycerol, a surface-exposed ECA chain linked to phosphatidylglycerol; and cyclic ECA, a cyclized soluble ECA molecule found in the periplasm. We determined that the suppression of envelope permeability with deletion is caused specifically by the loss of cyclic ECA, despite lowered levels of this molecule found with deletion. Furthermore, removing cyclic ECA from wild-type cells also caused changes to OM permeability. Our data demonstrate cyclic ECA acts to maintain the OM permeability barrier in a manner controlled by YhdP. Enterobacterial common antigen (ECA) is a surface antigen made by all members of , including many clinically relevant genera (e.g., , , ). Although this surface-exposed molecule is conserved throughout , very few functions have been ascribed to it. Here, we have determined that the periplasmic form of ECA, cyclic ECA, plays a role in maintaining the outer membrane permeability barrier. This activity is controlled by a protein of unknown function, YhdP, and deletion of damages the OM permeability barrier in a cyclic ECA-dependent manner, allowing harmful molecules such as antibiotics into the cell. This role in maintenance of the envelope permeability barrier is the first time a phenotype has been described for cyclic ECA. As the Gram-negative envelope is generally impermeable to antibiotics, understanding the mechanisms through which the barrier is maintained and antibiotics are excluded may lead to improved antibiotic delivery.
The outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria forms a robust permeability barrier that blocks entry of toxins and antibiotics. Most OM proteins (OMPs) assume a β-barrel fold, and some form aqueous channels for nutrient uptake and efflux of intracellular toxins. The Bam machine catalyzes rapid folding and assembly of OMPs. Fidelity of OMP biogenesis is monitored by the σ stress response. When OMP folding defects arise, the proteases DegS and RseP act sequentially to liberate σ into the cytosol, enabling it to activate transcription of the stress regulon. Here, we identify batimastat as a selective inhibitor of RseP that causes a lethal decrease in σ activity in , and we further identify RseP mutants that are insensitive to inhibition and confer resistance. Remarkably, batimastat treatment allows the capture of elusive intermediates in the OMP biogenesis pathway and offers opportunities to better understand the underlying basis for σ essentiality.
The outer membrane (OM) bilayer of Gram-negative bacteria is biologically unique in its asymmetrical organization of lipids, with an inner leaflet composed of glycerophospholipids (PLs) and a surface-exposed outer leaflet composed of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This lipid organization is integral to the OM's barrier properties. Perturbations of the outer leaflet by antimicrobial peptides or defects in LPS biosynthesis or transport to the OM cause a compensatory flipping of PLs to the outer leaflet. As a result, lipid asymmetry is disrupted and OM integrity is compromised. Recently, we identified an mutant that exhibits aberrant accumulation of surface PLs accompanied by a cellular increase in LPS production. Remarkably, the observed hyperproduction of LPS is PldA dependent. Here we provide evidence that the fatty acids generated by PldA at the OM are transported into the cytoplasm and simultaneously activated by thioesterification to coenzyme A (CoA) by FadD. The acyl-CoAs produced ultimately inhibit LpxC degradation by FtsH. The increased levels of LpxC, the enzyme that catalyzes the first committed step in LPS biosynthesis, increases the amount of LPS produced. Our data suggest that PldA acts as a sensor for lipid asymmetry in the OM. PldA protects the OM barrier by both degrading mislocalized PLs and generating lipid second messengers that enable long-distance signaling that prompts the cell to restore homeostasis at a distant organelle. The outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria is an effective permeability barrier that protects the cell from toxic agents, including antibiotics. Barrier defects are often manifested by phospholipids present in the outer leaflet of this membrane that take up space normally occupied by lipopolysaccharide. We have discovered a signaling mechanism that operates across the entire cell envelope used by the cell to detect these outer membrane defects. A phospholipase, PldA, that functions to degrade these mislocalized phospholipids has a second, equally important function as a sensor. The fatty acids produced by hydrolysis of the phospholipids act as second messengers to signal the cell that more lipopolysaccharide is needed. These fatty acids diffuse across the periplasm and are transported into the cytoplasm by a process that attaches coenzyme A. The acyl-CoA molecule produces signals to inhibit the degradation of the critical enzyme LpxC by the ATP-dependent protease FtsH, increasing lipopolysaccharide production.
The β-barrel assembly machine (Bam) complex folds and inserts integral membrane proteins into the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The two essential components of the complex, BamA and BamD, both interact with substrates, but how the two coordinate with each other during assembly is not clear. To elucidate aspects of this process we slowed the assembly of an essential β-barrel substrate of the Bam complex, LptD, by changing a conserved residue near the C terminus. This defective substrate is recruited to the Bam complex via BamD but is unable to integrate into the membrane efficiently. Changes in the extracellular loops of BamA partially restore assembly kinetics, implying that BamA fails to engage this defective substrate. We conclude that substrate binding to BamD activates BamA by regulating extracellular loop interactions for folding and membrane integration.
Most integral outer membrane proteins (OMPs) of Gram-negative bacteria, such as, assume a β-barrel structure. The β-barrel assembly machine (Bam), a five-member complex composed of β-barrel OMP BamA and four associated lipoproteins, BamB, BamC, BamD, and BamE, folds and inserts OMPs into the outer membrane. The two essential proteins BamA and BamD interact to stabilize two subcomplexes, BamAB and BamCDE, and genetic and structural evidence suggests that interactions between BamA and BamD occur via an electrostatic interaction between a conserved aspartate residue in a periplasmic domain of BamA and a conserved arginine in BamD. In this work, we characterize charge-change mutations at these key BamA and BamD residues and nearby charged residues in BamA with respect to OMP assembly and Bam complex stability. We show that Bam complex stability does not correlate with function, that BamA and BamD must adopt at least two active conformational states during OMP assembly, and that these charged residues are not required for function. Rather, these charged residues are important for coordinating the activities of BamA and BamD to allow efficient OMP assembly. We present a model of OMP assembly wherein recognition and binding of unfolded OMP substrate by BamA and BamD induce a signaling interaction between the two proteins, causing conformational changes necessary for the assembly reaction to proceed. By analogy to signal sequence recognition by SecYEG, we believe these BamA-BamD interactions ensure that both substrate and complex are competent for OMP assembly before the assembly reaction commences.Conformational changes in the proteins of the β-barrel assembly machine (Bam complex) are associated with the folding and assembly of outer membrane proteins (OMPs) in Gram-negative bacteria. We show that electrostatic interactions between the two essential proteins BamA and BamD coordinate conformational changes upon binding of unfolded substrate that allow the assembly reaction to proceed. Mutations affecting this interaction are lethal not because they destabilize the Bam complex but rather because they disrupt this coordination. Our model of BamA-BamD interactions regulating conformation in response to proper substrate interaction is reminiscent of conformational changes the secretory (Sec) machinery undergoes after signal sequence recognition that ensure protein quality control.
The hallmark of gram-negative bacteria and organelles such as mitochondria and chloroplasts is the presence of an outer membrane. In bacteria such as Escherichia coli, the outer membrane is a unique asymmetric lipid bilayer with lipopolysaccharide in the outer leaflet. Integral transmembrane proteins assume a β-barrel structure, and their assembly is catalyzed by the heteropentameric Bam complex containing the outer membrane protein BamA and four lipoproteins, BamB-E. How the Bam complex assembles a great diversity of outer membrane proteins into a membrane without an obvious energy source is a particularly challenging problem, because folding intermediates are predicted to be unstable in either an aqueous or a hydrophobic environment. Two models have been put forward: the budding model, based largely on structural data, and the BamA assisted model, based on genetic and biochemical studies. Here we offer a critical discussion of the pros and cons of each.
Lipoic acid is an essential metabolic cofactor added as a posttranslational modification on several multimeric enzyme complexes. These protein complexes, evolutionarily conserved from bacteria to humans, are core regulators of cellular metabolism. While the multistep enzymatic process of adding lipoyl modifications has been well characterized in, the enzyme required for the removal of these lipoyl moieties (i.e., a lipoamidase or delipoylase) has not yet been identified. Here, we describe our discovery of sirtuins as lipoamidases in bacteria and establish their conserved substrates. Specifically, by using a series of knockout, overexpression, biochemical,, proteomic, and functional assays, we determined the substrates of sirtuin CobB inas components of the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (KDH), and glycine cleavage (GCV) complexes.assays provided direct evidence for this specific CobB activity and its NADdependence, a signature of all sirtuins. By designing a targeted quantitative mass spectrometry method, we further measured sirtuin-dependent, site-specific lipoylation on these substrates. The biological significance of CobB-modulated lipoylation was next established by its inhibition of both PDH and KDH activities. By restricting the carbon sources available to, we demonstrated that CobB regulates PDH and KDH under several growth conditions. Additionally, we found that SrtN, the sirtuin homolog in Gram-positive, can also act as a lipoamidase. By demonstrating the evolutionary conservation of lipoamidase activity across sirtuin homologs, along with the conservation of common substrates, this work emphasizes the significance of protein lipoylation in regulating central metabolic processes.Here, we demonstrate that sirtuin lipoamidase activity exists in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and establishing its conservation from bacteria to humans. Specifically, we discovered that CobB and SrtN act as lipoamidases inand, respectively. Intriguingly, not only is this sirtuin enzymatic activity conserved, but also the lipoylated substrates and functions are conserved, as bacterial sirtuins negatively regulate the lipoylation levels and activities of PDH and KDH. Considering that PDH and KDH regulate two carbon entry points into the tricarboxylic acid cycle, our finding highlights lipoylation as a conserved molecular toggle that regulates central metabolic pathways. Indeed, our findings from tests in which we limited nutrient availability support this. Furthermore, this study illustrates how the integration of technologies from different disciplines provides avenues to uncover enzymatic activities at the core of cellular metabolism regulation.
Outer membrane protein (OMP) biogenesis inis a robust process essential to the life of the organism. It is catalyzed by the β-barrel assembly machine (Bam) complex, and a number of quality control factors, including periplasmic chaperones and proteases, maintain the integrity of this trafficking pathway. Little is known, however, about how periplasmic proteases recognize and degrade OMP substrates when assembly is compromised or whether different proteases recognize the same substrate at distinct points in the assembly pathway. In this work, we use well-defined assembly-defective mutants of LptD, the essential lipopolysaccharide assembly translocon, to show that the periplasmic protease DegP degrades substrates with assembly defects that prevent or impair initial contact with Bam, causing the mutant protein to accumulate in the periplasm. In contrast, another periplasmic protease, BepA, degrades a LptD mutant substrate that has engaged the Bam complex and formed a nearly complete barrel. Furthermore, we describe the role of the outer membrane lipoprotein YcaL, a protease of heretofore unknown function, in the degradation of a LptD substrate that has engaged the Bam complex but is stalled at an earlier step in the assembly process that is not accessible to BepA. Our results demonstrate that multiple periplasmic proteases monitor OMPs at distinct points in the assembly process.OMP assembly is catalyzed by the essential Bam complex and occurs in a cellular environment devoid of energy sources. Assembly intermediates that misfold can compromise this essential molecular machine. Here we demonstrate distinctive roles for three different periplasmic proteases that can clear OMP substrates with folding defects that compromise assembly at three different stages. These quality control factors help ensure the integrity of the permeability barrier that contributes to the intrinsic resistance of Gram-negative organisms to many antibiotics.
The Escherichia coli cell envelope is a protective barrier at the frontline of interaction with the environment. Fidelity of envelope biogenesis must be monitored to establish and maintain a contiguous barrier. Indeed, the envelope must also be repaired and modified in response to environmental assaults. Envelope stress responses (ESRs) sense envelope damage or defects and alter the transcriptome to mitigate stress. Here, we review recent insights into the stress-sensing mechanisms of the σ(E) and Cpx systems and the interaction of these ESRs. Small RNAs (sRNAs) are increasingly prominent regulators of the transcriptional response to stress. These fast-acting regulators also provide avenues for inter-ESR regulation that could be important when cells face multiple contemporaneous stresses, as is the case during infection.
The outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria is positioned at the frontline of the cell's interaction with its environment and provides a barrier against influx of external toxins while still allowing import of nutrients and excretion of wastes. It is a remarkable asymmetric bilayer with a glycolipid surface-exposed leaflet and a glycerophospholipid inner leaflet. Lipid asymmetry is key to OM barrier function and several different systems actively maintain this lipid asymmetry. All OM components are synthesized in the cytosol before being secreted and assembled into a contiguous membrane on the other side of the cell wall. Work in recent years has uncovered the pathways that transport and assemble most of the OM components. However, our understanding of how phospholipids are delivered to the OM remains notably limited. Here we will review seminal works in phospholipid transfer performed some 40years ago and place more recent insights in their context. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Bacterial Lipids edited by Russell E. Bishop.
Gram-negative bacteria have effective methods of excluding toxic compounds, including a largely impermeable outer membrane (OM) and a range of efflux pumps. Furthermore, when cells become nutrient limited, RpoS enacts a global expression change providing cross-protection against many stresses. Here, we utilized sensitivity to an anionic detergent (sodium dodecyl sulfate [SDS]) to probe changes occurring to the cell's permeability barrier during nutrient limitation. Escherichia coli is resistant to SDS whether cells are actively growing, carbon limited, or nitrogen limited. In actively growing cells, this resistance depends on the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump; however, this pump is not necessary for protection under either carbon-limiting or nitrogen-limiting conditions, suggesting an alternative mechanism(s) of SDS resistance. In carbon-limited cells, RpoS-dependent pathways lessen the permeability of the OM, preventing the necessity for efflux. In nitrogen-limited but not carbon-limited cells, the loss of rpoS can be completely compensated for by the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump. We suggest that this difference simply reflects the fact that nitrogen-limited cells have access to a metabolizable energy (carbon) source that can efficiently power the efflux pump. Using a transposon mutant pool sequencing (Tn-Seq) approach, we identified three genes, sanA, dacA, and yhdP, that are necessary for RpoS-dependent SDS resistance in carbon-limited stationary phase. Using genetic analysis, we determined that these genes are involved in two different envelope-strengthening pathways. These genes have not previously been implicated in stationary-phase stress responses. A third novel RpoS-dependent pathway appears to strengthen the cell's permeability barrier in nitrogen-limited cells. Thus, though cells remain phenotypically SDS resistant, SDS resistance mechanisms differ significantly between growth states.
IMPORTANCE: Gram-negative bacteria are intrinsically resistant to detergents and many antibiotics due to synergistic activities of a strong outer membrane (OM) permeability barrier and efflux pumps that capture and expel toxic molecules eluding the barrier. When the bacteria are depleted of an essential nutrient, a program of gene expression providing cross-protection against many stresses is induced. Whether this program alters the OM to further strengthen the barrier is unknown. Here, we identify novel pathways dependent on the master regulator of stationary phase that further strengthen the OM permeability barrier during nutrient limitation, circumventing the need for efflux pumps. Decreased permeability of nutrient-limited cells to toxic compounds has important implications for designing new antibiotics capable of targeting Gram-negative bacteria that may be in a growth-limited state.
The outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria is a permeability barrier and an intrinsic antibiotic resistance factor. Lipoproteins are OM components that function in cell wall synthesis, diverse secretion systems, and antibiotic efflux pumps. Moreover, each of the essential OM machines that assemble the barrier requires one or more lipoproteins. This dependence is thought to explain the essentiality of the periplasmic chaperone LolA and its OM receptor LolB that traffic lipoproteins to the OM. However, we show that in strains lacking substrates that are toxic when mislocalized, both LolA and LolB can be completely bypassed by activating an envelope stress response without compromising trafficking of essential lipoproteins. We identify the Cpx stress response as a monitor of lipoprotein trafficking tasked with protecting the cell from mislocalized lipoproteins. Moreover, our findings reveal that an alternate trafficking pathway exists that can, under certain conditions, bypass the functions of LolA and LolB, implying that these proteins do not perform any truly essential mechanistic steps in lipoprotein trafficking. Instead, these proteins' key function is to prevent lethal accumulation of mislocalized lipoproteins.