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Mutations in the tacF gene of clinical strains and laboratory transformants of Streptococcus pneumoniae: Impact on choline auxotrophy and growth rate

AuthorsGonzález, Ana ; Llull, Daniel ; Morales, María ; García, Pedro ; García, Pedro ; García, Ernesto
Issue Date2008
PublisherAmerican Society for Microbiology
CitationJournal of Bacteriology 190(12): 4129- 4138 (2008)
AbstractThe nutritional requirement that Streptococcus pneumoniae has for the aminoalcohol choline as a component of teichoic and lipoteichoic acids appears to be exclusive to this prokaryote. A mutation in the tacF gene, which putatively encodes an integral membrane protein (possibly, a teichoic acid repeat unit transporter), has been recently identified as responsible for generating a choline-independent phenotype of S. pneumoniae (M. Damjanovic, A. S. Kharat, A. Eberhardt, A. Tomasz, and W. Vollmer, J. Bacteriol. 189:7105-7111, 2007). We now report that Streptococcus mitis can grow in choline-free medium, as previously illustrated for Streptococcus oralis. While we confirmed the finding by Damjanovic et al. of the involvement of TacF in the choline dependence of the pneumococcus, the genetic transformation of S. pneumoniae R6 by using S. mitis SK598 DNA and several PCR-amplified tacF fragments suggested that a minimum of two mutations were required to confer improved fitness to choline-independent S. pneumoniae mutants. This conclusion is supported by sequencing results also reported here that indicate that a spontaneous mutant of S. pneumoniae (strain JY2190) able to proliferate in the absence of choline (or analogs) is also a double mutant for the tacF gene. Microscopic observations and competition experiments during the cocultivation of choline-independent strains confirmed that a minimum of two amino acid changes were required to confer improved fitness to choline-independent pneumococcal strains when growing in medium lacking any aminoalcohol. Our results suggest complex relationships among the different regions of the TacF teichoic acid repeat unit transporter.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1128/JB.01991-07
issn: 0021-9193
e-issn: 1098-5530
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