Direct activation of a phospholipase by cyclic GMP-AMP in El Tor Vibrio cholerae

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jun 26;115(26):E6048-E6055. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1801233115. Epub 2018 Jun 11.


Sensing and responding to environmental changes is essential for bacteria to adapt and thrive, and nucleotide-derived second messengers are central signaling systems in this process. The most recently identified bacterial cyclic dinucleotide second messenger, 3', 3'-cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP), was first discovered in the El Tor biotype of Vibrio cholerae The cGAMP synthase, DncV, is encoded on the VSP-1 pathogenicity island, which is found in all El Tor isolates that are responsible for the current seventh pandemic of cholera but not in the classical biotype. We determined that unregulated production of DncV inhibits growth in El Tor V. cholerae but has no effect on the classical biotype. This cGAMP-dependent phenotype can be suppressed by null mutations in vc0178 immediately 5' of dncV in VSP-1. VC0178 [renamed as cGAMP-activated phospholipase in Vibrio (CapV)] is predicted to be a patatin-like phospholipase, and coexpression of capV and dncV is sufficient to induce growth inhibition in classical V. cholerae and Escherichia coli Furthermore, cGAMP binds to CapV and directly activates its hydrolase activity in vitro. CapV activated by cGAMP in vivo degrades phospholipids in the cell membrane, releasing 16:1 and 18:1 free fatty acids. Together, we demonstrate that cGAMP activates CapV phospholipase activity to target the cell membrane and suggest that acquisition of this second messenger signaling pathway may contribute to the emergence of the El Tor biotype as the etiological agent behind the seventh cholera pandemic.

Keywords: cGAMP; cyclic dinucleotides; pathogenicity island; phospholipid metabolism; second messengers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology*
  • Cell Membrane / genetics
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic / genetics
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic / metabolism*
  • Phospholipases / genetics
  • Phospholipases / metabolism*
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology*
  • Vibrio cholerae / enzymology*
  • Vibrio cholerae / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic
  • cyclic guanosine monophosphate-adenosine monophosphate
  • Phospholipases