Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is an obligate predator of bacteria that grows and divides within the periplasm of its prey. Functions involved in the early steps of predation have been identified and characterized, but mediators of prey invasion are still poorly detailed. By combining omics data available for Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALO's), we identified 43 genes expressed in B. bacteriovorus during the early interaction with prey. These included genes in a tight adherence (TAD) operon encoding for two type IVb fimbriae-like pilin proteins (flp1 and flp2), and their processing and export machinery. Two additional flp genes (flp3 and flp4) were computationally identified at other locations along the chromosome, defining the largest and most diverse type IVb complement known in bacteria to date. Only flp1, flp2 and flp4 were expressed; their respective gene knock-outs resulted in a complete loss of the predatory ability without losing the ability to adhere to prey cells. Additionally, we further demonstrate differential regulation of the flp genes as the TAD operon of BALOs with different predatory strategies is controlled by a flagellar sigma factor FliA, while flp4 is not. Finally, we show that FliA, a known flagellar transcriptional regulator in other bacteria, is an essential Bdellovibrio gene.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 1583/12 to Edouard Jurkevitch) and by the German-Israel Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (Grant I-1217-342.13/2012 to Edouard Jurkevitch, Shmuel Pietrokovski and Michael W. Linscheid).
© 2017 The Author(s).