Lethality of sortase depletion in Actinomyces oris caused by excessive membrane accumulation of a surface glycoprotein

Chenggang Wu, I. Hsiu Huang, Chungyu Chang, Melissa Elizabeth Reardon-Robinson, Asis Das, Hung Ton-That

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Summary: Sortase, a cysteine-transpeptidase conserved in Gram-positive bacteria, anchors on the cell wall many surface proteins that facilitate bacterial pathogenesis and fitness. Genetic disruption of the housekeeping sortase in several Gram-positive pathogens reported thus far attenuates virulence, but not bacterial growth. Paradoxically, we discovered that depletion of the housekeeping sortase SrtA was lethal for Actinomyces oris; yet, all of its predicted cell wall-anchored protein substrates (AcaA-N) were individually dispensable for cell viability. Using Tn5-transposon mutagenesis to identify factors that upend lethality of srtA deletion, we uncovered a set of genetic suppressors harbouring transposon insertions within genes of a locus encoding AcaC and a LytR-CpsA-Psr (LCP)-like protein. AcaC was shown to be highly glycosylated and dependent on LCP for its glycosylation. Upon SrtA depletion, the glycosylated form of AcaC, hereby renamed GspA, was accumulated in the membrane. Overexpression of GspA in a mutant lacking gspA and srtA was lethal; conversely, cells overexpressing a GspA mutant missing a membrane-localization domain were viable. The results reveal a unique glycosylation pathway in A. oris that is coupled to cell wall anchoring catalysed by sortase SrtA. Significantly, this novel phenomenon of glyco-stress provides convenient cell-based assays for developing a new class of inhibitors against Gram-positive pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1227-1241
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014


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