From the regulation of peptidoglycan synthesis to bacterial growth and morphology.
Typas, A., Banzhaf, M., Gross, C.A. & Vollmer, W.
Nat Rev Microbiol. 2012 Feb;10(2):123-36. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2677.
How bacteria grow and divide while retaining a defined shape is a fundamental question in microbiology, but technological advances are now driving a new understanding of how the shape-maintaining bacterial peptidoglycan sacculus grows. In this Review, we highlight the relationship between peptidoglycan synthesis complexes and cytoskeletal elements, as well as recent evidence that peptidoglycan growth is regulated from outside the sacculus in Gram-negative bacteria. We also discuss how growth of the sacculus is sensitive to mechanical force and nutritional status, and describe the roles of peptidoglycan hydrolases in generating cell shape and of D-amino acids in sacculus remodelling.
Phenotypic landscape of a bacterial cell.
Nichols, R.J., Sen, S., Choo, Y.J., Beltrao, P., Zietek, M., Chaba, R., Lee, S., Kazmierczak, K.M., Lee, K.J., Wong, A., Shales, M., Lovett, S., Winkler, M.E., Krogan, N.J., Typas, A. & Gross, C.A.
Cell. 2011 Jan 7;144(1):143-56. Epub 2010 Dec 23.
The explosion of sequence information in bacteria makes developing high-throughput, cost-effective approaches to matching genes with phenotypes imperative. Using E. coli as proof of principle, we show that combining large-scale chemical genomics with quantitative fitness measurements provides a high-quality data set rich in discovery. Probing growth profiles of a mutant library in hundreds of conditions in parallel yielded > 10,000 phenotypes that allowed us to study gene essentiality, discover leads for gene function and drug action, and understand higher-order organization of the bacterial chromosome. We highlight new information derived from the study, including insights into a gene involved in multiple antibiotic resistance and the synergy between a broadly used combinatory antibiotic therapy, trimethoprim and sulfonamides. This data set, publicly available at http://ecoliwiki.net/tools/chemgen/, is a valuable resource for both the microbiological and bioinformatic communities, as it provides high-confidence associations between hundreds of annotated and uncharacterized genes as well as inferences about the mode of action of several poorly understood drugs.
Regulation of peptidoglycan synthesis by outer-membrane proteins.
Typas, A., Banzhaf, M., van den Berg van Saparoea, B., Verheul, J., Biboy, J., Nichols, R.J., Zietek, M., Beilharz, K., Kannenberg, K., von Rechenberg, M., Breukink, E., den Blaauwen, T., Gross, C.A. & Vollmer, W.
Cell. 2010 Dec 23;143(7):1097-109.
Growth of the mesh-like peptidoglycan (PG) sacculus located between the bacterial inner and outer membranes (OM) is tightly regulated to ensure cellular integrity, maintain cell shape, and orchestrate division. Cytoskeletal elements direct placement and activity of PG synthases from inside the cell, but precise spatiotemporal control over this process is poorly understood. We demonstrate that PG synthases are also controlled from outside of the sacculus. Two OM lipoproteins, LpoA and LpoB, are essential for the function, respectively, of PBP1A and PBP1B, the major E. coli bifunctional PG synthases. Each Lpo protein binds specifically to its cognate PBP and stimulates its transpeptidase activity, thereby facilitating attachment of new PG to the sacculus. LpoB shows partial septal localization, and our data suggest that the LpoB-PBP1B complex contributes to OM constriction during cell division. LpoA/LpoB and their PBP-docking regions are restricted to gamma-proteobacteria, providing models for niche-specific regulation of sacculus growth.
High-throughput, quantitative analyses of genetic interactions in E. coli.
Typas, A., Nichols, R.J., Siegele, D.A., Shales, M., Collins, S.R., Lim, B., Braberg, H., Yamamoto, N., Takeuchi, R., Wanner, B.L., Mori, H., Weissman, J.S., Krogan, N.J. & Gross, C.A.
Nat Methods. 2008 Sep;5(9):781-7.
Large-scale genetic interaction studies provide the basis for defining gene function and pathway architecture. Recent advances in the ability to generate double mutants en masse in Saccharomyces cerevisiae have dramatically accelerated the acquisition of genetic interaction information and the biological inferences that follow. Here we describe a method based on F factor-driven conjugation, which allows for high-throughput generation of double mutants in Escherichia coli. This method, termed genetic interaction analysis technology for E. coli (GIANT-coli), permits us to systematically generate and array double-mutant cells on solid media in high-density arrays. We show that colony size provides a robust and quantitative output of cellular fitness and that GIANT-coli can recapitulate known synthetic interactions and identify previously unidentified negative (synthetic sickness or lethality) and positive (suppressive or epistatic) relationships. Finally, we describe a complementary strategy for genome-wide suppressor-mutant identification. Together, these methods permit rapid, large-scale genetic interaction studies in E. coli.