Bacterial cells are encased in a peptidoglycan (PG) exoskeleton that protects them from osmotic lysis and specifies their distinct shapes. Cell wall hydrolases are required to enlarge this covalently closed macromolecule during growth, but how these autolytic enzymes are regulated remains poorly understood. Bacillus subtilis encodes two functionally redundant D,L-endopeptidases (CwlO and LytE) that cleave peptide crosslinks to allow expansion of the PG meshwork during growth. Here, we provide evidence that the essential and broadly conserved WalR-WalK two component regulatory system continuously monitors changes in the activity of these hydrolases by sensing the cleavage products generated by these enzymes and modulating their levels and activity in response. The WalR-WalK pathway is conserved among many Gram-positive pathogens where it controls transcription of distinct sets of PG hydrolases. Cell wall remodeling in these bacteria may be subject to homeostatic control mechanisms similar to the one reported here.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- David Z Rudner
- David Z Rudner
- David Z Rudner
- Josué Flores-Kim
- Yannick R Brunet
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Tâm Mignot, CNRS-Aix Marseille University, France
© 2019, Dobihal et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Lateral partitioning of proteins and lipids shapes membrane function. In model membranes, partitioning can be influenced both by bilayer-intrinsic factors like molecular composition and by bilayer-extrinsic factors such as interactions with other membranes and solid supports. While cellular membranes can departition in response to bilayer-intrinsic or -extrinsic disruptions, the mechanisms by which they partition de novo are largely unknown. The plasma membrane of Mycobacterium smegmatis spatially and biochemically departitions in response to the fluidizing agent benzyl alcohol, then repartitions upon fluidizer washout. By screening for mutants that are sensitive to benzyl alcohol, we show that the bifunctional cell wall synthase PonA2 promotes membrane partitioning and cell growth during recovery from benzyl alcohol exposure. PonA2’s role in membrane repartitioning and regrowth depends solely on its conserved transglycosylase domain. Active cell wall polymerization promotes de novo membrane partitioning and the completed cell wall polymer helps to maintain membrane partitioning. Our work highlights the complexity of membrane–cell wall interactions and establishes a facile model system for departitioning and repartitioning cellular membranes.
Neutrophils are essential for host defense against Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). The neuro-repellent, SLIT2, potently inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis, and might, therefore, be expected to impair antibacterial responses. We report here that, unexpectedly, neutrophils exposed to the N-terminal SLIT2 (N-SLIT2) fragment kill extracellular S. aureus more efficiently. N-SLIT2 amplifies reactive oxygen species production in response to the bacteria by activating p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase that in turn phosphorylates NCF1, an essential subunit of the NADPH oxidase complex. N-SLIT2 also enhances the exocytosis of neutrophil secondary granules. In a murine model of S. aureus skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI), local SLIT2 levels fall initially but increase subsequently, peaking at 3 days after infection. Of note, the neutralization of endogenous SLIT2 worsens SSTI. Temporal fluctuations in local SLIT2 levels may promote neutrophil recruitment and retention at the infection site and hasten bacterial clearance by augmenting neutrophil oxidative burst and degranulation. Collectively, these actions of SLIT2 coordinate innate immune responses to limit susceptibility to S. aureus.