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J Bacteriol. 2008 Jun;190(12):4291-300. doi: 10.1128/JB.00023-08. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Inactivation of lsr2 results in a hypermotile phenotype in Mycobacterium smegmatis.

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  • 1Washington State University, School of Molecular Biosciences, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.


Mycobacterial species are characterized by the presence of lipid-rich, hydrophobic cell envelopes. These cell envelopes contribute to properties such as roughness of colonies, aggregation of cells in liquid culture without detergent, and biofilm formation. We describe here a mutant strain of Mycobacterium smegmatis, called DL1215, which demonstrates marked deviations from the above-mentioned phenotypes. DL1215 arose spontaneously from a strain deficient for the stringent response (M. smegmatis Delta rel(Msm) strain) and is not a reversion to a wild-type phenotype. The nature of the spontaneous mutation was a single base-pair deletion in the lsr2 gene, leading to the formation of a truncated protein product. The DL1215 strain was complicated by having both inactivated rel(Msm) and lsr2 genes, and so a single lsr2 mutant was created to analyze the gene's function. The lsr2 gene was inactivated in the wild-type M. smegmatis mc(2)155 strain by allelic replacement to create strain DL2008. Strain DL2008 shows characteristics unique from those of both the wild-type and Delta rel(Msm) strains, some of which include a greatly enhanced ability to slide over agar surfaces (referred to here as "hypermotility"), greater resistance to phage infection and to the antibiotic kanamycin, and an inability to form biofilms. Complementation of the DL2008 mutant with a plasmid containing lsr2 (pLSR2) reverts the strain to the mc(2)155 phenotype. Although these phenotypic differences allude to changes in cell surface lipids, no difference is observed in glycopeptidolipids, polar lipids, apolar lipids, or mycolic acids of the cell wall.

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