Crosstalk between two Nucleotide-Signaling Pathways in Staphylococcus aureus [Signal Transduction]

January 9th, 2015 by Corrigan, R. M., Bowman, L., Willis, A. R., Kaever, V., Grundling, A.

Nucleotide-signaling pathways are found in all kingdoms of life and are utilized to coordinate a rapid response to external stimuli. The stringent response alarmones guanosine tetra- (ppGpp) and pentaphosphate (pppGpp) control a global response allowing cells to adapt to starvation conditions such as amino acid depletion. One more recently discovered signaling nucleotide is the secondary messenger cyclic diadenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP). Here we demonstrate that this signaling nucleotide is essential for the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and its increased production during late growth phases indicates that c-di-AMP controls processes that are important for the survival of cells in stationary phase. By examining the transcriptional profile of cells with high levels of c-di-AMP, we reveal a significant overlap with a stringent response transcription signature. Examination of the intracellular nucleotide levels under stress conditions provides further evidence that high levels of c-di-AMP lead to an activation of the stringent response through a RelA/SpoT homologue (RSH) enzyme-dependent increase in the (p)ppGpp levels. This activation is shown to be indirect as c-di-AMP does not interact directly with the RSH protein. Our data extend this interconnection further by showing that the S. aureus c-di-AMP phosphodiesterase enzyme GdpP is inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by ppGpp, which itself is not a substrate for this enzyme. Altogether these findings add a new layer of complexity to our understanding of nucleotide signaling in bacteria as they highlight intricate interconnections between different nucleotide-signaling networks.