Genome-scale model of Rothia mucilaginosa predicts gene essentialities and reveals metabolic capabilities

Microbiol Spectr. 2024 Apr 23:e0400623. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.04006-23. Online ahead of print.


Cystic fibrosis (CF), an inherited genetic disorder caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene, results in sticky and thick mucosal fluids. This environment facilitates the colonization of various microorganisms, some of which can cause acute and chronic lung infections, while others may positively impact the disease. Rothia mucilaginosa, an oral commensal, is relatively abundant in the lungs of CF patients. Recent studies have unveiled its anti-inflammatory properties using in vitro three-dimensional lung epithelial cell cultures and in vivo mouse models relevant to chronic lung diseases. Apart from this, R. mucilaginosa has been associated with severe infections. However, its metabolic capabilities and genotype-phenotype relationships remain largely unknown. To gain insights into its cellular metabolism and genetic content, we developed the first manually curated genome-scale metabolic model, iRM23NL. Through growth kinetics and high-throughput phenotypic microarray testings, we defined its complete catabolic phenome. Subsequently, we assessed the model's effectiveness in accurately predicting growth behaviors and utilizing multiple substrates. We used constraint-based modeling techniques to formulate novel hypotheses that could expedite the development of antimicrobial strategies. More specifically, we detected putative essential genes and assessed their effect on metabolism under varying nutritional conditions. These predictions could offer novel potential antimicrobial targets without laborious large-scale screening of knockouts and mutant transposon libraries. Overall, iRM23NL demonstrates a solid capability to predict cellular phenotypes and holds immense potential as a valuable resource for accurate predictions in advancing antimicrobial therapies. Moreover, it can guide metabolic engineering to tailor R. mucilaginosa's metabolism for desired performance.IMPORTANCECystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder characterized by thick mucosal secretions, leading to chronic lung infections. Rothia mucilaginosa is a common bacterium found in various parts of the human body, acting as a normal part of the flora. In people with weakened immune systems, it can become an opportunistic pathogen, while it is prevalent and active in CF airways. Recent studies have highlighted its anti-inflammatory properties in the lower pulmonary system, indicating the intricate relationship between microbes and human health. Herein, we have developed the first manually curated metabolic model of R. mucilaginosa. Our study examined the previously unknown relationships between the bacterium's genotype and phenotype and identified essential genes that impact the metabolism under various conditions. With this, we opt for paving the way for developing new strategies in antimicrobial therapy and metabolic engineering, leading to enhanced therapeutic outcomes in cystic fibrosis and related conditions.

Keywords: ATCC 25296; Gram-positive; Rothia mucilaginosa DSM20746; SBML; antimicrobial strategies; constraint-based modeling; cystic fibrosis; flux balance analysis; flux variability analysis; genome-scale metabolic model; iRM23NL; lung infections; mathematical network; metabolic engineering; nasal microbiome; pathway analysis.