Preprint Communication Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Involvement of H-NS in Acinetobacter baumannii’s Natural Transformation

Version 1 : Received: 29 July 2021 / Approved: 2 August 2021 / Online: 2 August 2021 (12:58:22 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Le, C.; Pimentel, C.; Tuttobene, M.R.; Subils, T.; Escalante, J.; Nishimura, B.; Arriaga, S.; Rodgers, D.; Bonomo, R.A.; Sieira, R.; Tolmasky, M.E.; Ramírez, M.S. Involvement of the Histone-Like Nucleoid Structuring Protein (H-NS) in Acinetobacter baumannii’s Natural Transformation. Pathogens 2021, 10, 1083. Le, C.; Pimentel, C.; Tuttobene, M.R.; Subils, T.; Escalante, J.; Nishimura, B.; Arriaga, S.; Rodgers, D.; Bonomo, R.A.; Sieira, R.; Tolmasky, M.E.; Ramírez, M.S. Involvement of the Histone-Like Nucleoid Structuring Protein (H-NS) in Acinetobacter baumannii’s Natural Transformation. Pathogens 2021, 10, 1083.

Journal reference: Pathogens 2021, 10, 1083
DOI: 10.3390/pathogens10091083

Abstract

Most Acinetobacter baumannii strains are naturally competent. Although some information is available about factors that enhance or reduce the frequency of transformation of this bacterium, the regulatory elements and mechanisms are barely understood. In this article, we describe studies on the role of H-NS in the regulation of expression of genes related to natural competency and the ability to uptake foreign DNA. The expression levels of the natural transformation-related genes pilA, pilT, pilQ, comEA, comEC, comF, and drpA were significantly increased in a Δhns derivative of Acinetobacter baumannii A118. Complementation of the mutant with a recombinant plasmid harboring hns restored expression levels of six of these genes (pilT remained expressed at high levels) to those of the wild-type strain. The transformation frequency of the A. baumannii A118 Δhns strain was significantly higher than that of the wild-type. Similar, albeit not identical, effects occurred when hns was deleted from the hypervirulent A. baumannii AB5075 strain. Reduction of gene expression in a few cases was not as pronounced as to reach wild-type levels, and expression of comEA was enhanced further. In conclusion, the expression of all seven transformation-related genes was enhanced after deleting hns in A. baumannii A118 and AB5075, and these modifications are accompanied by an increase in the cells’ transformability. The results demonstrate a role of H-NS in A. baumannii’s natural competence.

Keywords

Acinetobacter baumannii, H-NS, natural transformation, naturally competent, DNA acquisition

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