Cholera is a devastating diarrheal disease caused by Vibrio cholerae, a water-born pathogen. V. cholerae must adapt to changing nutrient availability, such as carbon sources, when transitioning between its aquatic reservoirs and the human host. Transcriptional analysis and mutagenesis screens have previously indicated that energy metabolism pathways, particularly the phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP)-carbohydrate phosphotransferase system (PTS), play a major role in the transition of V. cholerae between different niches. However, the components of the V. cholerae PTS remain largely uncharacterized. The long-term goal of this proposal is to elucidate how V. cholerae regulates the PTS to adapt to changing environments. Many small RNAs (sRNAs) are involved in diverse regulatory pathways involving stress-adaptation in V. cholerae and related bacteria. The objective of this proposal is to determine if an sRNA-mediated mechanism is involved in V. cholerae adaptation to different carbon sources. Previous studies have identified sRNAs in the V. cholerae transcriptome that may be involved in regulating the PTS of this facultative pathogen. Strong preliminary data suggests that an sRNA, MtlS, is expressed in a regulated manner and inhibits the expression of mtlA, the mannitol- specific transporter of V. cholerae. The central hypothesis is that V. cholerae uses MtlS-mediated control of gene expression to rapidly adapt to changes in carbon source, contributing to its environmental persistence. The central hypothesis will be tested by pursuing three specific aims. First, the mechanism of sRNA-mediated regulation of mannitol metabolism will be determined. Using biochemical approaches and mutagenesis, effects of MtlS on mtlA expression will be elucidated.
The second aim of this proposal will use dual genetic selections to identify minimal mtlA regulatory motifs targeted by MtlS.
The third aim of this proposal is to identify the regulator of mtlS expression using biochemical assays and mutagenesis. The experiments proposed here will advance the understanding of the role of sRNAs in carbon metabolism and elucidate components of a central metabolic pathway that may provide targets for vaccines and therapeutics against V. cholerae. Thus, the proposed research is relevant to the NIH's mission of developing fundamental knowledge that will reduce the burdens of human diseases. Furthermore, V. cholerae is an excellent model for other facultative bacteria;thus, this proposal will also provide insight into other known and emerging pathogens.
This project involves determining how the bacterial pathogen Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, adapts to different environments. With an estimated greater than one million cases each year, cholera represents a major global public health concern. Understanding the biochemical and physiological changes V. cholerae undergoes while transitioning between aquatic environment and host will provide insights into how we may combat these pathogens with next-generation therapeutics and vaccines.
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