Enterococci are Gram-positive bacteria present in the healthy human microbiota, but they are also a leading cause of nosocomial infections. Maltodextrin utilization by Enterococcus faecalis has been identified as an important factor for colonization of mammalians hosts. Here, we show that the LacI/GalR transcriptional regulator MalR, the maltose gene regulator, is also the main regulator of the operons encoding an ABC transporter (mdxEFG) and three metabolic enzymes (mmdH-gmdH-mmgT) required for the uptake and catabolism of maltotetraose and longer maltodextrins. The utilization of maltose and maltodextrins is consequently coordinated and induced by the disaccharide maltose, which binds to MalR. Carbon catabolite repression of the mdxEFG and mmdH-gmdH-mmgT operons is mediated by both P-Ser-HPr/MalR and P-Ser-HPr/CcpA. The latter complex exerts only moderate catabolite repression, which became visible when comparing maltodextrin operon expression levels of a malR- mutant (with a mutant allele for the malR gene) and a malR- ΔccpA double mutant grown in the presence of maltose, which is transported via a phosphotransferase system and, thus, favors the formation of P-Ser-HPr. Moreover, maltodextrin transport via MdxEFG slows rapidly when glucose is added, suggesting an additional regulation via inducer exclusion. This complex regulation of metabolic operons likely allows E. faecalis to fine-tune gene expression in response to changing environmental conditions.IMPORTANCEEnterococcus faecalis represents a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections worldwide. Several studies highlighted the importance of carbohydrate metabolism in the infection process of this bacterium. The genes required for maltodextrin metabolism are particularly induced during mouse infection and, therefore, should play an important role for pathogenesis. Since no data were hitherto available concerning the regulation of expression of the maltodextrin operons, we have conducted experiments to study the underlying mechanisms.
Keywords: ABC transporter; Enterococcus faecalis; maltodextrin; metabolism; regulation; regulation of gene expression.
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