Only three pathogenic bacterial species, Salmonella enterica, Clostridium perfringens, and Listeria monocytogenes, are able to utilize both ethanolamine and 1,2-propanediol as a sole carbon source. Degradation of these substrates, abundant in food and the gut, depends on cobalamin, which is synthesized de novo only under anaerobic conditions. Although the eut, pdu, and cob-cbi gene clusters comprise 40 kb, the conditions under which they confer a selection advantage on these food-borne pathogens remain largely unknown. Here we used the luciferase reporter system to determine the response of the Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium promoters PeutS, PpocR, P pduF, and PpduA to a set of carbon sources, to egg yolk, to whole milk, and to milk protein or fat fractions. Depending on the supplements, specific inductions up to 3 orders of magnitude were observed for PeutS and PpduA, which drive the expression of most eut and pdu genes. To correlate these significant expression data with growth properties, nonpolar deletions of pocR, regulating the pdu and cob-cbi genes, and of eutR, involved in eut gene activation, were constructed in S. Typhimurium strain 14028. During exponential growth of the mutants 14028ΔpocR and 14028ΔeutR, 2- to 3-fold-reduced proliferation in milk and egg yolk was observed. Using the Caenorhabditis elegans infection model, we could also demonstrate that the proliferation of S. Typhimurium in the nematode is supported by an active ethanolamine degradation pathway. Taking these findings together, this study quantifies the differential expression of eut and pdu genes under distinct conditions and provides experimental evidence that the ethanolamine utilization pathway allows salmonellae to occupy specific metabolic niches within food environments and within their host organisms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology