Analysis of Growth Phases of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Reveals a Distinct Transition Phase before Entry into Early Stationary Phase with Shifts in Tryptophan, Fucose, and Putrescine Metabolism and Degradation of Neurotransmitter Precursors.

Joffré E, Xiao X, Correia MSP, Nookaew I, Sasse S, Globisch D, Zhu B, Sjöling Å

Microbiol Spectr 10 (4) e0175521 [2022-08-31; online 2022-07-25]

Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a major cause of diarrhea in children and adults in endemic areas. Gene regulation of ETEC during growth in vitro and in vivo needs to be further evaluated, and here we describe the full transcriptome and metabolome of ETEC during growth from mid-logarithmic growth to early stationary phase in rich medium (LB medium). We identified specific genes and pathways subjected to rapid transient alterations in gene expression and metabolite production during the transition from logarithmic to stationary growth. The transient phase was found to be different from the subsequent induction of early stationary phase-induced genes. The transient phase was characterized by the repression of genes and metabolites involved in organic substance transport. Genes involved in fucose and putrescine metabolism were upregulated, and genes involved in iron transport were repressed. Expression of toxins and colonization factors were not changed, suggesting retained virulence from mid-logarithmic to the start of the stationary phase. Metabolomic analyses showed that the transient phase was characterized by a drop of intracellular amino acids, e.g., l-tyrosine, l-tryptophan, l-phenylalanine, l-leucine, and l-glutamic acid, followed by increased levels at induction of stationary phase. A pathway enrichment analysis of the entire combined transcriptome and metabolome revealed that significant pathways during progression from logarithmic to early stationary phase are involved in the degradation of neurotransmitters aminobutyrate (GABA) and precursors of 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin). This work provides a comprehensive framework for further studies on transcriptional and metabolic regulation in pathogenic E. coli. IMPORTANCE We show that E. coli, exemplified by the pathogenic subspecies enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), undergoes a stepwise transcriptional and metabolic transition into the stationary phase. At a specific entry point, E. coli induces activation and repression of specific pathways. This leads to a rapid decrease of intracellular levels of certain amino acids. The resulting metabolic activity leads to an intense but short peak of indole production, suggesting that this is the previously described "indole peak," rapid decrease of intermediate molecules of bacterial neurotransmitters, increased putrescine and fucose uptake, increased glutathione levels, and decreased iron uptake. This specific transient shift in gene expression and metabolome is short-lived and disappears when bacteria enter the early stationary phase. We suggest that these changes mainly prepare bacteria for ceased growth, but based on the pathways involved, we could suggest that this transient phase substantially influences survival and virulence.

Daniel Globisch

SciLifeLab Fellow

PubMed 35876501

DOI 10.1128/spectrum.01755-21

Crossref 10.1128/spectrum.01755-21

pmc: PMC9431495

Publications 9.5.0