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The stringent response is an essential mechanism of metabolic reprogramming during environmental stress that is mediated by the nucleotide alarmones guanosine tetraphosphate and pentaphosphate [(p)ppGpp]. In addition to physiological adaptations, (p)ppGpp also regulates virulence programs in pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. S Typhimurium is a common cause of acute gastroenteritis, but it may also spread to systemic tissues, resulting in severe clinical outcomes. During infection, S Typhimurium encounters a broad repertoire of immune defenses that it must evade for successful host infection. Here, we examined the role of the stringent response in S Typhimurium resistance to complement-mediated killing and found that the (p)ppGpp synthetase-hydrolase, SpoT, is required for bacterial survival in human serum. We identified the nucleotide hydrolase, PpnN, as a target of the stringent response that is required to promote bacterial fitness in serum. Using chromatography and mass spectrometry, we show that PpnN hydrolyzes purine and pyrimidine monophosphates to generate free nucleobases and ribose 5'-phosphate, and that this metabolic activity is required for conferring resistance to complement killing. In addition to PpnN, we show that (p)ppGpp is required for the biosynthesis of the very long and long O-antigen in the outer membrane, known to be important for complement resistance. Our results provide new insights into the role of the stringent response in mediating evasion of the innate immune system by pathogenic bacteria. Copyright © 2021 American Society for Microbiology.


N Y Elizabeth Chau, Deyanira Pérez-Morales, Wael Elhenawy, Víctor H Bustamante, Yong E Zhang, Brian K Coombes. p)ppGpp-Dependent Regulation of the Nucleotide Hydrolase PpnN Confers Complement Resistance in Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium. Infection and immunity. 2021 Jan 19;89(2)

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PMID: 33139383

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