Department of Biology, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
Cyclic di-AMP (c-di-AMP) is a recently discovered second messenger in bacteria. The cellular level of c-di-AMP in is predicted to be controlled by the synthase DacA and two putative phosphodiesterases, GdpP and Pde2. To investigate the role of c-di-AMP in , we generated null mutants in each of these proteins by gene deletion. Unlike those in other Gram-positive pathogens such as and , DacA in was not essential for growth in rich media. The DacA null mutant presented a growth defect that manifested through an increased lag time, produced no detectable biofilm, and displayed increased susceptibility toward environmental stressors such as high salt, low pH, reactive oxygen radicals, and cell wall-targeting antibiotics, suggesting that c-di-AMP plays significant roles in crucial cellular processes involved in stress management. The Pde2 null mutant exhibited a lower growth rate and increased biofilm formation, and interestingly, these phenotypes were distinct from those of the null mutant of GdpP, suggesting that Pde2 and GdpP play distinctive roles in c-di-AMP signaling. DacA and Pde2 were critical to the production of the virulence factor SpeB and to the overall virulence of , as both DacA and Pde2 null mutants were highly attenuated in a mouse model of subcutaneous infection. Collectively, these results show that c-di-AMP is an important global regulator and is required for a proper response to stress and for virulence in , suggesting that its signaling pathway could be an attractive antivirulence drug target against infections.
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