Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 36067333
Link to DOI – 10.1126/scisignal.abn8171
Sci Signal 2022 Sep; 15(750): eabn8171
To colonize the host and cause disease, the human enteropathogen Clostridioides difficile must sense, respond, and adapt to the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract. We showed that the production and degradation of cyclic diadenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP) were necessary during different phases of C. difficile growth, environmental adaptation, and infection. The production of this nucleotide second messenger was essential for growth because it controlled the uptake of potassium and also contributed to biofilm formation and cell wall homeostasis, whereas its degradation was required for osmotolerance and resistance to detergents and bile salts. The c-di-AMP binding transcription factor BusR repressed the expression of genes encoding the compatible solute transporter BusAA-AB. Compared with the parental strain, a mutant lacking BusR was more resistant to hyperosmotic and bile salt stresses, whereas a mutant lacking BusAA was more susceptible. A short exposure of C. difficile cells to bile salts decreased intracellular c-di-AMP concentrations, suggesting that changes in membrane properties induce alterations in the intracellular c-di-AMP concentration. A C. difficile strain that could not degrade c-di-AMP failed to persist in a mouse gut colonization model as long as the wild-type strain did. Thus, the production and degradation of c-di-AMP in C. difficile have pleiotropic effects, including the control of osmolyte uptake to confer osmotolerance and bile salt resistance, and its degradation is important for host colonization.