Deletion of the Cytophaga hutchinsonii type IX secretion system gene sprP results in defects in gliding motility and cellulose utilization


Cytophaga hutchinsonii glides rapidly over surfaces and employs a novel collection of cell-associated proteins to digest crystalline cellulose. HimarEm1 transposon mutagenesis was used to isolate a mutant with an insertion in CHU_0170 (sprP) that was partially deficient in gliding motility and was unable to digest filter paper cellulose. SprP is similar in sequence to the Porphyromonas gingivalis type IX secretion system (T9SS) protein PorP that is involved in the secretion of gingipain protease virulence factors and to the Flavobacterium johnsoniae T9SS protein SprF that is needed to deliver components of the gliding motility machinery to the cell surface. We developed an efficient method to construct targeted nonpolar mutations in C. hutchinsonii and deleted sprP. The deletion mutant was defective in gliding and failed to digest cellulose, and complementation with sprP on a plasmid restored both abilities. Sequence analysis predicted that CHU_3105 is secreted by the T9SS, and deletion of sprP resulted in decreased levels of extracellular CHU_3105. The results suggest that SprP may function in protein secretion. The T9SS may be required for motility and cellulose utilization because cell surface proteins predicted to be involved in both processes have C-terminal domains that are thought to target them to this secretion system. The efficient genetic tools now available for C. hutchinsonii should allow a detailed analysis of the cellulolytic, gliding motility, and protein secretion machineries of this common but poorly understood bacterium.

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The authors thank Greg Sabat and Greg Barrett-Wilt at the UW—Madison Mass Spectrometry Facility for LC-MS/MS analyses. This research was supported by MCB-1021721 from the National Science Foundation and by a University of WI—Milwaukee Research Growth Initiative grant.

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Correspondence to Mark J. McBride.

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Zhu, Y., McBride, M.J. Deletion of the Cytophaga hutchinsonii type IX secretion system gene sprP results in defects in gliding motility and cellulose utilization. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 98, 763–775 (2014) doi:10.1007/s00253-013-5355-2

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  • Cytophaga hutchinsonii
  • Deletion
  • Protein secretion
  • Bacteroidetes
  • Gliding motility
  • Cellulose digestion