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Increased thermal and osmotic stress resistance in Listeria monocytogenes 568 grown in the presence of trehalose due to inactivation of the phosphotrehalase-encoding Gene trea

Ells, T.C., Hansen, L.T. (2011). Increased thermal and osmotic stress resistance in Listeria monocytogenes 568 grown in the presence of trehalose due to inactivation of the phosphotrehalase-encoding Gene trea, 77(19), 6841-6851. http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00757-11

Abstract

The food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes is a problem for food processors and consumers alike, as the organism is resistant to harsh environmental conditions and inimical barriers implemented to prevent the survival and/or growth of harmful bacteria. One mechanism by which listeriae mediate survival is through the accumulation of compatible solutes, such as proline, betaine and carnitine. In other bacteria, including Escherichia coli, the synthesis and accumulation of another compatible solute, trehalose, are known to aid in the survival of stressed cells. The objective of this research was to investigate trehalose metabolism in L. monocytogenes, where the sugar is thought to be transferred across the cytoplasmic membrane via a specific phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system and phosphorylation to trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P). The latter is subsequently broken down into glucose and glucose-6-phosphate by α,α-(1,1) phosphotrehalase, the putative product of the treA gene. Here we report on an isogenic treA mutant of L. monocytogenes 568 (568:ΔTreA) which, relative to the wild-type strain, displays increased tolerances to multiple stressors, including heat, high osmolarity, and desiccation. This is the first study to examine the putative trehalose operon in L. monocytogenes, and we demonstrate that lmo1254 (treA) in L. monocytogenes 568 indeed encodes a phosphotrehalase required for the hydrolysis of T6P. Disruption of the treA gene results in the accumulation of T6P which is subsequently dephosphorylated to trehalose in the cytosol, thereby contributing to the stress hardiness observed in the treA mutant. This study highlights the importance of compatible solutes for microbial survival in adverse environments. © 2011, American Society for Microbiology.

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