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The Lipid Lysyl-Phosphatidylglycerol Is Present in Membranes of Rhizobium tropici CIAT899 and Confers Increased Resistance to Polymyxin B Under Acidic Growth Conditions

November 2007 , Volume 20 , Number  11
Pages  1,421 - 1,430

Christian Sohlenkamp,1 Kanaan A. Galindo-Lagunas,1 Ziqiang Guan,2 Pablo Vinuesa,1 Sally Robinson,3 Jane Thomas-Oates,3 Christian R. H. Raetz,2 and Otto Geiger1

1Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Av. Universidad s/n, Apdo. Postal 565-A, Cuernavaca, Morelos, CP62210, Mexico; 2Department of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, U.S.A.; 3Department of Chemistry, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, U.K.

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Accepted 26 June 2007.

Lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (LPG) is a well-known membrane lipid in several gram-positive bacteria but is almost unheard of in gram-negative bacteria. In Staphylococcus aureus, the gene product of mprF is responsible for LPG formation. Low pH-inducible genes, termed lpiA, have been identified in the gram-negative α-proteobacteria Rhizobium tropici and Sinorhizobium medicae in screens for acid-sensitive mutants and they encode homologs of MprF. An analysis of the sequenced bacterial genomes reveals that genes coding for homologs of MprF from S. aureus are present in several classes of organisms throughout the bacterial kingdom. In this study, we show that the expression of lpiA from R. tropici in the heterologous hosts Escherichia coli and Sinorhizobium meliloti causes formation of LPG. A wild-type strain of R. tropici forms LPG (about 1% of the total lipids) when the cells are grown in minimal medium at pH 4.5 but not when grown in minimal medium at neutral pH or in complex tryptone yeast (TY) medium at either pH. LPG biosynthesis does not occur when lpiA is deleted and is restored upon complementation of lpiA-deficient mutants with a functional copy of the lpiA gene. When grown in the low-pH medium, lpiA-deficient rhizobial mutants are over four times more susceptible to the cationic peptide polymyxin B than the wild type.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society