Two gene clusters co-ordinate for a functional N-acetylglucosamine catabolic pathway in Vibrio cholerae

Mol Microbiol. 2011 Jun;80(6):1549-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07664.x. Epub 2011 May 5.


Pathogenic microorganisms like Vibrio cholerae are capable of adapting to diverse living conditions, especially when they transit from their environmental reservoirs to human host. V. cholerae attaches to N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) residues in glycoproteins and lipids present in the intestinal epithelium and chitinous surface of zoo-phytoplanktons in the aquatic environment for its survival and colonization. GlcNAc utilization thus appears to be important for the pathogen to reach sufficient titres in the intestine for producing clinical symptoms of cholera. We report here the involvement of a second cluster of genes working in combination with the classical genes of GlcNAc catabolism, suggesting the occurrence of a novel variant of the process of biochemical conversion of GlcNAc to Fructose-6-phosphate as has been described in other organisms. Colonization was severely attenuated in mutants that were incapable of utilizing GlcNAc. It was also shown that N-acetylglucosamine specific repressor (NagC) performs a dual role - while the classical GlcNAc catabolic genes are under its negative control, the genes belonging to the second cluster are positively regulated by it. Further application of tandem affinity purification to NagC revealed its interaction with a novel partner. Our results provide a genetic program that probably enables V. cholerae to successfully utilize amino - sugars and also highlights a new mode of transcriptional regulation, not described in this organism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Cholera / metabolism*
  • Cholera / microbiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Vibrio cholerae / genetics
  • Vibrio cholerae / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Acetylglucosamine