The Impacts of Sortase A and the 4′-Phosphopantetheinyl Transferase Homolog Sfp on Streptococcus mutans Extracellular Membrane Vesicle Biogenesis

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Frontiers in Microbiology


Extracellular membrane vesicles (EMVs) are produced by many Gram-positive organisms, but information regarding vesiculogenesis is incomplete. We used single gene deletions to evaluate the impacts on Streptococcus mutans EMV biogenesis of Sortase A (SrtA), which affects S. mutans EMV composition, and Sfp, a 4′-phosphopantetheinyl transferase that affects Bacillus subtilis EMV stability. ΔsrtA EMVs were notably larger than Δsfp and wild-type (WT) EMVs. EMV proteins identified from all three strains are known to be involved in cell wall biogenesis and cell architecture, bacterial adhesion, biofilm cell density and matrix development, and microbial competition. Notably, the AtlA autolysin was not processed to its mature active form in the ΔsrtA mutant. Proteomic and lipidomic analyses of all three strains revealed multiple dissimilarities between vesicular and corresponding cytoplasmic membranes (CMs). A higher proportion of EMV proteins are predicted substrates of the general secretion pathway (GSP). Accordingly, the GSP component SecA was identified as a prominent EMV-associated protein. In contrast, CMs contained more multi-pass transmembrane (TM) protein substrates of co-translational transport machineries than EMVs. EMVs from the WT, but not the mutant strains, were enriched in cardiolipin compared to CMs, and all EMVs were over-represented in polyketide flavonoids. EMVs and CMs were rich in long-chain saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, except for Δsfp EMVs that contained exclusively polyunsaturated fatty acids. Lipoproteins were less prevalent in EMVs of all three strains compared to their CMs. This study provides insight into biophysical characteristics of S. mutans EMVs and indicates discrete partitioning of protein and lipid components between EMVs and corresponding CMs of WT, ΔsrtA, and Δsfp strains.

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