Mcc1229, an Stx2a-Amplifying Microcin, Is Produced In Vivo and Requires CirA for Activity


Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains, including the foodborne pathogen E. coli O157:H7, are responsible for thousands of hospitalizations each year. Various environmental triggers can modulate pathogenicity in EHEC by inducing the expression of Shiga toxin (Stx), which is encoded on a lambdoid prophage and transcribed together with phage late genes. Cell-free supernatants of the sequence type 73 (ST73) E. coli strain 0.1229 are potent inducers of Stx2a production in EHEC, suggesting that 0.1229 secretes a factor that activates the SOS response and leads to phage lysis. We previously demonstrated that this factor, designated microcin 1229 (Mcc1229), was proteinaceous and plasmid-encoded. To further characterize Mcc1229 and support its classification as a microcin, we investigated its regulation, determined its receptor, and identified loci providing immunity. The production of Mcc1229 was increased upon iron limitation, as determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), lacZ fusions, and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Spontaneous Mcc1229-resistant mutants and targeted gene deletion revealed that CirA was the Mcc1229 receptor. TonB, which interacts with CirA in the periplasm, was also essential for Mcc1229 import. Subcloning of the Mcc1229 plasmid indicated that Mcc activity was neutralized by two open reading frames (ORFs), each predicted to encode a domain of unknown function (DUF)-containing protein. In a germfree mouse model of infection, colonization with 0.1229 suppressed subsequent colonization by EHEC. Although Mcc1229 was produced in vivo, it was dispensable for colonization suppression. The regulation, import, and immunity determinants identified here are consistent with features of other Mccs, suggesting that Mcc1229 should be included in this class of small molecules.

Infection and Immunity