The glycine lipids of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron are important for fitness during growth in vivo and in vitro

Alli Lynch, Seshu R. Tammireddy, Mary K. Doherty, Phillip D. Whitfield, David J. Clarke

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Acylated amino acids function as important components of the cellular membrane in some bacteria. Biosynthesis is initiated by the N-acylation of the amino acid and this is followed by subsequent O-acylation of the acylated molecule resulting in the production of the mature diacylated amino acid lipid. In this study we use both genetics and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to characterize the biosynthesis and function of a diacylated glycine lipid (GL) species produced in Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. We, and others, have previously reported the identification of a gene, named glsB in this study, that encodes a N-acyltransferase activity responsible for the production of a monoacylated glycine called N-acyl-3-hydroxy-palmitoyl glycine (or commendamide). In all of the Bacteroidales genomes so far sequenced the glsB gene is located immediately downstream from a gene, named glsA, also predicted to encode a protein with acyltransferase activity. We use LC-MS to show that co-expression of glsB and glsA results in the production of GL in Escherichia coli. We constructed a deletion mutant of the glsB gene in B. thetaiotaomicron and we confirm that glsB is required for the production of GL in B. thetaiotaomicron. Moreover, we show that glsB is important for the ability of B. thetaiotaomicron to adapt to stress and colonize the mammalian gut. Therefore, this report describes the genetic requirements for the biosynthesis of GL, a diacylated amino acids species that contributes to fitness in the human gut bacterium, B. thetaiotaomicron.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Early online date26 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2018


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