HU protein affects transcription of surface polysaccharide synthesis genes in Porphyromonas gingivalis

Christine Alberti-Segui, Annette Arndt, Carla Cugini, Richa Priyadarshini, Mary E. Davey

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20 Scopus citations


K-antigen capsule synthesis is an important virulence determinant of the oral anaerobe Porphyromonas gingivalis. We previously reported that the locus required for synthesis of this surface polysaccharide in strain W83 (TIGR identification PG0106 to PG0120) is transcribed as a large (∼16.7-kb) polycistronic message. Through sequence analysis, we have now identified a 77-bp inverted repeat located upstream (206 bp) of the start codon of PG0106 that is capable of forming a large hairpin structure. Further sequence analysis just upstream and downstream of the capsule synthesis genes revealed the presence of two genes oriented in the same direction as the operon that are predicted to encode DNA binding proteins: PG0104, which is highly similar (57%) to DNA topoisomerase III, and PG0121, which has high similarity (72%) to DNA binding protein HU (β-subunit). In this report, we show that these two genes, as well as the 77-bp inverted repeat region, are cotranscribed with the capsule synthesis genes, resulting in a large transcript that is ∼19.4 kb (based on annotation). We also show that a PG0121 recombinant protein is a nonspecific DNA binding protein with strong affinity to the hairpin structure, in vitro, and that transcript levels of the capsule synthesis genes are downregulated in a PG0121 deletion mutant. Furthermore, we show that this decrease in transcript levels corresponds to a decrease in the amount of polysaccharide produced. Interestingly, expression analysis of another polysaccharide synthesis locus (PG1136 to PG1143) encoding genes involved in synthesis of a surface-associated phosphorylated branched mannan (APS) indicated that this locus is also downregulated in the PG0121 mutant. Altogether our data indicate that HU protein modulates expression of surface polysaccharides in P. gingivalis strain W83.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6217-6229
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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