The Unique Phospholipidome of the Enteric Pathogen Campylobacter jejuni: Lysophosholipids Are Required for Motility at Low Oxygen Availability

J Mol Biol. 2020 Sep 4;432(19):5244-5258. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.07.012. Epub 2020 Jul 22.


In response to changes in their environment bacteria need to change both their protein and phospholipid repertoire to match environmental requirements, but the dynamics of bacterial phospholipid composition under different growth conditions is still largely unknown. In the present study, we investigated the phospholipidome of the bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. Transcription profiling on logarithmic and stationary phase grown cells of the microaerophilic human pathogen C. jejuni using RNA-seq revealed differential expression of putative phospholipid biosynthesis genes. By applying high-performance liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry, we identified 203 phospholipid species representing the first determination of the phospholipidome of this pathogen. We identified nine different phospholipid classes carrying between one and three acyl chains. Phospholipidome analysis on bacteria of different ages (0-5 days) showed rapid changes in the ratio of phospholipids containing ethanolamine, or glycerol as phospholipid head group and in the number of cyclopropane bond containing fatty acids. Oxygen concentration influenced the percentage of lysophospholipids, and cyclo-propane bonds containing acyl chains. We show that large amounts of the phospholipids are lysophospholipids (30-45%), which mutant studies reveal are needed for normal C. jejuni motility at low oxygen conditions. C. jejuni possesses an unusual phospholipidome that is highly dynamic in response to environmental changes.

Keywords: Campylobacter jejuni; Cfa; PldA; lysophospholipids; phospholipidome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Campylobacter Infections / microbiology*
  • Campylobacter jejuni / chemistry
  • Campylobacter jejuni / genetics
  • Campylobacter jejuni / growth & development
  • Campylobacter jejuni / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Lipidomics
  • Lysophospholipids / analysis
  • Lysophospholipids / genetics
  • Lysophospholipids / metabolism
  • Metabolome
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Phospholipids / analysis
  • Phospholipids / genetics
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome


  • Lysophospholipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Oxygen