Dam Methylation Controls O-Antigen Chain Length in Salmonella enterica Serovar Enteritidis by Regulating the Expression of Wzz Protein
Journal of Bacteriology
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We reported previously that a Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis dam mutant expressing a truncated Dam protein does not agglutinate in the presence of specific antibodies against O9 polysaccharide. Here we investigate the participation of Dam in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) synthesis in Salmonella. The LPS O-antigen profiles of a dam null mutant (SEDeltadam) and the Salmonella serovar Enteritidis parental strain were examined by using electrophoresis and silver staining. Compared to the parental strain, SEDeltadam produced LPS with shorter O-antigen polysaccharide chains. Since Wzz is responsible for the chain length distribution of the O antigen, we investigated whether Dam methylation is involved in regulating wzz expression. Densitometry analysis showed that the amount of Wzz produced by SEDeltadam is threefold lower than the amount of Wzz produced by the parental strain. Concomitantly, the activity of the wzz promoter in SEDeltadam was reduced nearly 50% in logarithmic phase and 25% in stationary phase. These results were further confirmed by reverse transcription-PCR showing that wzz gene expression was threefold lower in the dam mutant than in the parental strain. Our results demonstrate that wzz gene expression is downregulated in a dam mutant, indicating that Dam methylation activates expression of this gene. This work indicates that wzz is a new target regulated by Dam methylation and demonstrates that DNA methylation not only affects the production of bacterial surface proteins but also the production of surface polysaccharides.