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Mol Microbiol. 2009 Apr;72(2):380-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06653.x. Epub 2009 Mar 4.

Stringent response in Vibrio cholerae: genetic analysis of spoT gene function and identification of a novel (p)ppGpp synthetase gene.

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Infectious Diseases and Immunology Division, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Kolkata, India.


RelA and SpoT of Gram-negative organisms critically regulate cellular levels of (p)ppGpp. Here, we have dissected the spoT gene function of the cholera pathogen Vibrio cholerae by extensive genetic analysis. Unlike Escherichia coli, V. choleraeDeltarelADeltaspoT cells accumulated (p)ppGpp upon fatty acid or glucose starvation. The result strongly suggests RelA-SpoT-independent (p)ppGpp synthesis in V. cholerae. By repeated subculturing of a V. choleraeDeltarelADeltaspoT mutant, a suppressor strain with (p)ppGpp(0) phenotype was isolated. Bioinformatics analysis of V. cholerae whole genome sequence allowed identification of a hypothetical gene (VC1224), which codes for a small protein (approximately 29 kDa) with a (p)ppGpp synthetase domain and the gene is highly conserved in vibrios; hence it has been named relV. Using E. coliDeltarelA or DeltarelADeltaspoT mutant we showed that relV indeed codes for a novel (p)ppGpp synthetase. Further analysis indicated that relV gene of the suppressor strain carries a point mutation at nucleotide position 676 of its coding region (DeltarelADeltaspoT relV676), which seems to be responsible for the (p)ppGpp(0) phenotype. Analysis of a V. choleraeDeltarelADeltaspoTDeltarelV triple mutant confirmed that apart from canonical relA and spoT genes, relV is a novel gene in V. cholerae responsible for (p)ppGpp synthesis.

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