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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 May 12;106(19):7997-8002. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812573106. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

Genetic reductionist approach for dissecting individual roles of GGDEF proteins within the c-di-GMP signaling network in Salmonella.

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  • 1Instituto de Agrobiotecnología, Universidad Pública de Navarra-CSIC-Gobierno de Navarra, Pamplona-31006, Navarra, Spain.


Bacteria have developed an exclusive signal transduction system involving multiple diguanylate cyclase and phosphodiesterase domain-containing proteins (GGDEF and EAL/HD-GYP, respectively) that modulate the levels of the same diffusible molecule, 3'-5'-cyclic diguanylic acid (c-di-GMP), to transmit signals and obtain specific cellular responses. Current knowledge about c-di-GMP signaling has been inferred mainly from the analysis of recombinant bacteria that either lack or overproduce individual members of the pathway, without addressing potential compensatory effects or interferences between them. Here, we dissected c-di-GMP signaling by constructing a Salmonella strain lacking all GGDEF-domain proteins and then producing derivatives, each restoring 1 protein. Our analysis showed that most GGDEF proteins are constitutively expressed and that their expression levels are not interdependent. Complete deletion of genes encoding GGDEF-domain proteins abrogated virulence, motility, long-term survival, and cellulose and fimbriae synthesis. Separate restoration revealed that 4 proteins from Salmonella and 1 from Yersinia pestis exclusively restored cellulose synthesis in a c-di-GMP-dependent manner, indicating that c-di-GMP produced by different GGDEF proteins can activate the same target. However, the restored strain containing the STM4551-encoding gene recovered all other phenotypes by means of gene expression modulation independently of c-di-GMP. Specifically, fimbriae synthesis and virulence were recovered through regulation of csgD and the plasmid-encoded spvAB mRNA levels, respectively. This study provides evidence that the regulation of the GGDEF-domain proteins network occurs at 2 levels: a level that strictly requires c-di-GMP to control enzymatic activities directly, restricted to cellulose synthesis in our experimental conditions, and another that involves gene regulation for which c-di-GMP synthesis can be dispensable.

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