In B. burgdorferi, the Rrp2-RpoN-RpoS signaling cascade is a distinctive system that coordinates the expression of virulence factors required for successful transition between its arthropod vector and mammalian hosts. Rrp2(BB0763), an RpoN specific response regulator, is essential to activate this regulatory pathway. Previous investigations have attempted to identify the phosphate donor of Rrp2, including the cognate histidine kinase, Hk2(BB0764), non-cognate histidine kinases such as Hk1, CheA1, and CheA2, and small molecular weight P-donors such as carbamoyl-phosphate and acetyl-phosphate (AcP). In a report by Xu et al., exogenous sodium acetate led to increased expression of RpoS and OspC and it was hypothesized this effect was due to increased levels of AcP via the enzyme AckA (BB0622). Genome analyses identified only one pathway that could generate AcP in B. burgdorferi: the acetate/mevalonate pathway that synthesizes the lipid, undecaprenyl phosphate (C55-P, lipid I), which is essential for cell wall biogenesis. To assess the role of AcP in Rrp2-dependent regulation of RpoS and OspC, we used a unique selection strategy to generate mutants that lacked ackA (bb0622: acetate to AcP) or pta (bb0589: AcP to acetyl-CoA). These mutants have an absolute requirement for mevalonate and demonstrate that ackA and pta are required for cell viability. When the ΔackA or Δpta mutant was exposed to conditions (i.e., increased temperature or cell density) that up-regulate the expression of RpoS and OspC, normal induction of those proteins was observed. In addition, adding 20mM acetate or 20mM benzoate to the growth media of B. burgdorferi strain B31 ΔackA induced the expression of RpoS and OspC. These data suggest that AcP (generated by AckA) is not directly involved in modulating the Rrp2-RpoN-RpoS regulatory pathway and that exogenous acetate or benzoate are triggering an acid stress response in B. burgdorferi.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)