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Different pathways of choline metabolism in two choline-independent strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae and their impact on virulence

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Waldemar Vollmer


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The two recently characterized Streptococcus pneumoniae strains - R6Chi and R6Cho- - that have lost the unique auxotrophic requirement of this bacterial species for choline differ in their mechanisms of choline independence. In strain R6Chi the mechanism is caused by a point mutation in tacF, a gene that is part of the pneumococcal lic2 operon, which is essential for growth and survival of the bacteria. Cultures of lic2 mutants of the encapsulated strain D39Chi growing in choline-containing medium formed long chains, did not autolyze, had no choline in their cell wall, and were completely avirulent in the mouse intraperitoneal model. In contrast, while the Cho - strain carried a complete pneumococcal lic2 operon and had no mutations in the tacF gene, deletion of the entire lic2 operon had no effect on the growth or phenotype of strain Cho-. These observations suggest that the biochemical functions normally dependent on determinants of the pneumococcal lic2 operon may also be carried out in strain Cho- by a second set of genetic elements imported from Streptococcus oralis, the choline-independent streptococcal strain that served as the DNA donor in the heterologous transformation event that produced strain R6Cho-. The identification in R6Cho- of a large (20-kb) S. oralis DNA insert carrying both tacF and licD genes confirms this prediction and suggests that these heterologous elements may represent a "backup" system capable of catalyzing P-choline incorporation and export of teichoic acid chains under conditions in which the native lic2 operon is not functional. Copyright © 2008, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kharat AS, Denapaite D, Gehre F, Brückner R, Vollmer W, Hakenbeck R, Tomasz A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Bacteriology

Year: 2008

Volume: 190

Issue: 17

Pages: 5907-5914

ISSN (print): 0021-9193

ISSN (electronic): 1067-8832

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology


DOI: 10.1128/JB.00628-08


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