A single point mutation in the Listeria monocytogenes ribosomal gene rpsU enables SigB activation independently of the stressosome and the anti-sigma factor antagonist RsbV

Xuchuan Ma, Marcel H. Tempelaars, Marcel H. Zwietering, Sjef Boeren, Conor P. O’Byrne, Heidy M.W. den Besten, Tjakko Abee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Microbial population heterogeneity leads to different stress responses and growth behavior of individual cells in a population. Previously, a point mutation in the rpsU gene (rpsUG50C) encoding ribosomal protein S21 was identified in a Listeria monocytogenes LO28 variant, which leads to increased multi-stress resistance and a reduced maximum specific growth rate. However, the underlying mechanisms of these phenotypic changes remain unknown. In L. monocytogenes, the alternative sigma factor SigB regulates the general stress response, with its activation controlled by a series of Rsb proteins, including RsbR1 and anti-sigma factor RsbW and its antagonist RsbV. We combined a phenotype and proteomics approach to investigate the acid and heat stress resistance, growth rate, and SigB activation of L. monocytogenes EGDe wild type and the ΔsigB, ΔrsbV, and ΔrsbR1 mutant strains. While the introduction of rpsUG50C in the ΔsigB mutant did not induce a SigB-mediated increase in robustness, the presence of rpsUG50C in the ΔrsbV and the ΔrsbR1 mutants led to SigB activation and concomitant increased robustness, indicating an alternative signaling pathway for the SigB activation in rpsUG50C mutants. Interestingly, all these rpsUG50C mutants exhibited reduced maximum specific growth rates, independent of SigB activation, possibly attributed to compromised ribosomal functioning. In summary, the increased stress resistance in the L. monocytogenes EGDe rpsUG50C mutant results from SigB activation through an unknown mechanism distinct from the classical stressosome and RsbV/RsbW partner switching model. Moreover, the reduced maximum specific growth rate of the EGDe rpsUG50C mutant is likely unrelated to SigB activation and potentially linked to impaired ribosomal function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1304325
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • fitness
  • pathogen
  • population heterogeneity
  • stress resistance
  • variant

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