Journal of bacteriology

The two CcdA proteins of Bacillus anthracis differentially affect virulence gene expression and sporulation.

PMID 24056109


The cytochrome c maturation system influences the expression of virulence factors in Bacillus anthracis. B. anthracis carries two copies of the ccdA gene, encoding predicted thiol-disulfide oxidoreductases that contribute to cytochrome c maturation, while the closely related organism Bacillus subtilis carries only one copy of ccdA. To investigate the roles of the two ccdA gene copies in B. anthracis, strains were constructed without each ccdA gene, and one strain was constructed without both copies simultaneously. Loss of both ccdA genes results in a reduction of cytochrome c production, an increase in virulence factor expression, and a reduction in sporulation efficiency. Complementation and expression analyses indicate that ccdA2 encodes the primary CcdA in B. anthracis, active in all three pathways. While CcdA1 retains activity in cytochrome c maturation and virulence control, it has completely lost its activity in the sporulation pathway. In support of this finding, expression of ccdA1 is strongly reduced when cells are grown under sporulation-inducing conditions. When the activities of CcdA1 and CcdA2 were analyzed in B. subtilis, neither protein retained activity in cytochrome c maturation, but CcdA2 could still function in sporulation. These observations reveal the complexities of thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase function in pathways relevant to virulence and physiology.