Characterization of a novel riboswitch-regulated lysine transporter in Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans

J Bacteriol. 2010 Dec;192(23):6240-50. doi: 10.1128/JB.00935-10. Epub 2010 Oct 1.


Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is an opportunistic pathogen that resides primarily in the mammalian oral cavity. In this environment, A. actinomycetemcomitans faces numerous host- and microbe-derived stresses, including intense competition for nutrients and exposure to the host immune system. While it is clear that A. actinomycetemcomitans responds to precise cues that allow it to adapt and proliferate in the presence of these stresses, little is currently known about the regulatory mechanisms that underlie these responses. Many bacteria use noncoding regulatory RNAs (ncRNAs) to rapidly alter gene expression in response to environmental stresses. Although no ncRNAs have been reported in A. actinomycetemcomitans, we propose that they are likely important for colonization and persistence in the oral cavity. Using a bioinformatic and experimental approach, we identified three putative metabolite-sensing riboswitches and nine small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) in A. actinomycetemcomitans during planktonic and biofilm growth. Molecular characterization of one of the riboswitches revealed that it is a lysine riboswitch and that its target gene, lysT, encodes a novel lysine-specific transporter. Finally, we demonstrated that lysT and the lysT lysine riboswitch are conserved in over 40 bacterial species, including the phylogenetically related pathogen Haemophilus influenzae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / genetics
  • Lysine / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Pasteurellaceae / enzymology*
  • Pasteurellaceae / genetics*
  • Riboswitch*


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Riboswitch
  • Lysine