Identification of lptA, lpxE, and lpxO, Three Genes Involved in the Remodeling of Brucella Cell Envelope.

Raquel Conde-Álvarez, Leyre Palacios Chaves, Yolanda Gil-Ramirez, Jose A. Bengoechea, Miriam Salvador-Bescos, Marina Bárcena-Varela, Beatriz Aragón-Aranda, Estrella Martinez-Gomez, Amaia Zuniga-Ripa, Maria J. de Miguel, Toby Leigh Bartholomew, Sean Hanniffy, María-Jesús Grilló, Miguel Angel Vences-Guzman, Jose Bengoechea, Vilma Arce-Gorvel, Jean-Pieere Gorvel, Ignacio Moriyon, Maite Iriarte

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The brucellae are facultative intracellular bacteria that cause a worldwide extended zoonosis. One of the pathogenicity mechanisms of these bacteria is their ability to avoid rapid recognition by innate immunity because of a reduction of the pathogenassociated molecular pattern (PAMP) of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS), free-lipids, and other envelope molecules. We investigated the Brucella homologs of lptA, lpxE, and lpxO, three genes that in some pathogens encode enzymes that mask the LPS PAMP by upsetting the core-lipid A charge/hydrophobic balance. Brucella lptA, which encodes a putative ethanolamine transferase, carries a frame-shift in B. abortus but not in other Brucella spp. and phylogenetic neighbors like the opportunistic pathogen Ochrobactrum anthropi. Consistent with the genomic evidence, a B. melitensis lptA mutant lacked lipid A-linked ethanolamine and displayed increased sensitivity to polymyxin B (a surrogate of innate immunity bactericidal peptides), while B. abortus carrying B. melitensis lptA displayed increased resistance. Brucella lpxE encodes a putative phosphatase acting on lipid A or on a free-lipid that is highly conserved in all brucellae and O. anthropi. Although we found no evidence of lipid A dephosphorylation, a B. abortus lpxE mutant showed increased polymyxin B sensitivity, suggesting the existence of a hitherto unidentified free-lipid involved in bactericidal peptide resistance. Gene lpxO putatively encoding an acyl hydroxylase carries a frame-shift in all brucellae except B. microti and is intact in O. anthropi. Free-lipid analysis revealed that lpxO corresponded to olsC, the gene coding for the ornithine lipid (OL) acyl hydroxylase active in O. anthropi and B. microti, while B. abortus carrying the olsC of O. anthropi and B. microti synthesized hydroxylated OLs. Interestingly, mutants in lptA, lpxE, or olsC
Original languageEnglish
Article number2657
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2018


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