The stringent response factors PPX1 and PPK2 play an important role in Mycobacterium tuberculosis metabolism, biofilm formation, and sensitivity to isoniazid in vivo
Antimicrob Agents Chemother
Authors:Chuang Y-M, Dutta NK, Hung CF, Wu TC, Rubin H, Karakousis PC
Mycobacterium tuberculosis remains a global health threat largely due to the lengthy duration of curative antibiotic treatment, contributing to medical nonadherence and the emergence of drug resistance. This prolonged therapy is likely due to the presence of M. tuberculosis persisters, which exhibit antibiotic tolerance. Inorganic polyphosphate [poly(P)] is a key regulatory molecule in the M. tuberculosis stringent response mediating antibiotic tolerance. The polyphosphate kinase PPK1 is responsible for poly(P) synthesis in M. tuberculosis, while the exopolyphosphatases PPX1 and PPX2 and the GTP synthase PPK2 are responsible for poly(P) hydrolysis. In the present study, we show by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry that poly(P)-accumulating M. tuberculosis mutant strains deficient in ppx1 or ppk2 had significantly lower intracellular levels of glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P) and 1-deoxy-xylulose-5-phosphate. Real-time PCR revealed decreased expression of genes in the G3P synthesis pathway in each mutant. The ppx1-deficient mutant also showed a significant accumulation of metabolites in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, as well as altered arginine and NADH metabolism. Each poly(P)-accumulating strain showed defective biofilm formation, while deficiency of ppk2 was associated with increased sensitivity to plumbagin and meropenem and deficiency of ppx1 led to enhanced susceptibility to clofazimine. A DNA vaccine expressing ppx1 and ppk2, together with two other members of the M. tuberculosis stringent response, M. tuberculosis rel and sigE, did not show protective activity against aerosol challenge with M. tuberculosis, but vaccine-induced immunity enhanced the killing activity of isoniazid in a murine model of chronic tuberculosis. In summary, poly(P)-regulating factors of the M. tuberculosis stringent response play an important role in M. tuberculosis metabolism, biofilm formation, and antibiotic sensitivity in vivo.