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Effects of the histone-like protein HU on cellulose degradation and biofilm formation of Cytophaga hutchinsonii

Guan, Zhiwei, Wang, Ying, Gao, Lijuan, Zhang, Weican, Lu, Xuemei
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2018 v.102 no.15 pp. 6593-6611
Cytophaga hutchinsonii, DNA, Escherichia coli, beta-glucosidase, biofilm, cell movement, cellulose, endo-1,4-beta-glucanase, enzyme activity, exopolysaccharides, gene expression regulation, genes, mutants, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, transcription (genetics), transcription factors
Cytophaga hutchinsonii, belonging to Bacteroidetes, is speculated to use a novel cell-contact mode to digest cellulose. In this study, we identified a histone-like protein HU, CHU_2750, in C. hutchinsonii, whose transcription could be induced by crystalline but not amorphous cellulose. We constructed a CHU_2750-deleted mutant and expressed CHU_2750 in Escherichia coli to study the gene’s functions. Our results showed that although the deletion of CHU_2750 was not lethal to C. hutchinsonii, the mutant displayed an abnormal filamentous morphology, loose nucleoid, and obvious defects in the degradation of crystalline cellulose and cell motility. Further study indicated that the mutant displayed significantly decreased cell surface and intracellular endoglucanase activities but with β-glucosidase activities similar to the wild-type strain. Analyses by real-time quantitative PCR revealed that the transcription levels of many genes involved in cellulose degradation and/or cell motility were significantly downregulated in the mutant. In addition, we found that CHU_2750 was important for biofilm formation of C. hutchinsonii. The main extracellular components of the biofilm were analyzed, and the results showed that the mutant yielded significantly less exopolysaccharide but more extracellular DNA and protein than the wild-type strain. Collectively, our findings demonstrated that CHU_2750 is important for cellulose degradation, cell motility, and biofilm formation of C. hutchinsonii by modulating transcription of certain related genes, and it is the first identified transcriptional regulator in these processes of C. hutchinsonii. Our study shed more light on the mechanisms of cellulose degradation, cell motility, and biofilm formation by C. hutchinsonii.