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Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli display a distinct growth phase before entry into stationary phase with shifts in tryptophan- fucose- and putrescine metabolism and degradation of neurotransmitter precursors

By Enrique Joffré, Xue Xiao, Mário S. P. Correia, Intawat Nookaew, Samantha Sasse, Daniel Globisch, Baoli Zhu, Åsa Sjöling

Posted 26 Aug 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.24.457600

Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a major cause of diarrhea in children and adults in endemic areas. Gene regulation of ETEC during growth in vitro and in vivo needs to be further evaluated, and here we describe the full transcriptome and metabolome of ETEC during growth from mid-logarithmic growth to stationary phase in rich medium (LB medium). We identified specific genes and pathways subjected to rapid transient alterations in gene expression and metabolite production during the transition between logarithmic to stationary growth. The transient phase during late exponential growth is different from the subsequent induction of stationary phase-induced genes, including stress and survival responses as described earlier. The transient phase was characterized by the repression of genes and metabolites involved in organic substance transport. Genes involved in fucose and putrescine metabolism were upregulated, and genes involved in iron transport were repressed. Expression of toxins and colonization factors were not changed, suggesting retained virulence. Metabolomic analyses showed that the transient phase was characterized by a drop of intracellular amino acids, e.g., L-tyrosine, L-tryptophan, L-phenylalanine, L-leucine, and L-glutamic acid, followed by increased levels at induction of stationary phase. A pathway enrichment analysis of the entire transcriptome and metabolome showed activation of pathways involved in the degradation of neurotransmitters aminobutyrate (GABA) and precursors of 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin). This work provides a comprehensive framework for further studies on transcriptional and metabolic regulation in pathogenic E. coli.

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