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MBio. 2017 Jul 25;8(4). pii: e01047-17. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01047-17.

Bacterial Signaling Nucleotides Inhibit Yeast Cell Growth by Impacting Mitochondrial and Other Specifically Eukaryotic Functions.

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Cambridge Systems Biology Centre, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Cambridge Systems Biology Centre, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


We have engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae to inducibly synthesize the prokaryotic signaling nucleotides cyclic di-GMP (cdiGMP), cdiAMP, and ppGpp in order to characterize the range of effects these nucleotides exert on eukaryotic cell function during bacterial pathogenesis. Synthetic genetic array (SGA) and transcriptome analyses indicated that, while these compounds elicit some common reactions in yeast, there are also complex and distinctive responses to each of the three nucleotides. All three are capable of inhibiting eukaryotic cell growth, with the guanine nucleotides exhibiting stronger effects than cdiAMP. Mutations compromising mitochondrial function and chromatin remodeling show negative epistatic interactions with all three nucleotides. In contrast, certain mutations that cause defects in chromatin modification and ribosomal protein function show positive epistasis, alleviating growth inhibition by at least two of the three nucleotides. Uniquely, cdiGMP is lethal both to cells growing by respiration on acetate and to obligately fermentative petite mutants. cdiGMP is also synthetically lethal with the ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) inhibitor hydroxyurea. Heterologous expression of the human ppGpp hydrolase Mesh1p prevented the accumulation of ppGpp in the engineered yeast and restored cell growth. Extensive in vivo interactions between bacterial signaling molecules and eukaryotic gene function occur, resulting in outcomes ranging from growth inhibition to death. cdiGMP functions through a mechanism that must be compensated by unhindered RNR activity or by functionally competent mitochondria. Mesh1p may be required for abrogating the damaging effects of ppGpp in human cells subjected to bacterial infection.IMPORTANCE During infections, pathogenic bacteria can release nucleotides into the cells of their eukaryotic hosts. These nucleotides are recognized as signals that contribute to the initiation of defensive immune responses that help the infected cells recover. Despite the importance of this process, the broader impact of bacterial nucleotides on the functioning of eukaryotic cells remains poorly defined. To address this, we genetically modified cells of the eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast) to produce three of these molecules (cdiAMP, cdiGMP, and ppGpp) and used the engineered strains as model systems to characterize the effects of the molecules on the cells. In addition to demonstrating that the nucleotides are each capable of adversely affecting yeast cell function and growth, we also identified the cellular functions important for mitigating the damage caused, suggesting possible modes of action. This study expands our understanding of the molecular interactions that can take place between bacterial and eukaryotic cells.


Saccharomyces cerevisiae; cyclic nucleotides; host-pathogen interactions; signaling nucleotides; yeasts

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