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Open Access Research article

Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli have disparate dependences on KsgA for growth and ribosome biogenesis

Heather C O’Farrell1 and Jason P Rife12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiology and Molecular Biophysics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

2 Institute for Structural Biology and Drug Discovery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:244  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-244

Published: 24 October 2012

Abstract

Background

The KsgA methyltransferase has been conserved throughout evolution, methylating two adenosines in the small subunit rRNA in all three domains of life as well as in eukaryotic organelles that contain ribosomes. Understanding of KsgA’s important role in ribosome biogenesis has been recently expanded in Escherichia coli; these studies help explain why KsgA is so highly conserved and also suggest KsgA’s potential as an antimicrobial drug target.

Results

We have analyzed KsgA’s contribution to ribosome biogenesis and cell growth in Staphylococcus aureus. We found that deletion of ksgA in S. aureus led to a cold-sensitive growth phenotype, although KsgA was not as critical for ribosome biogenesis as it was shown to be in E. coli. Additionally, the ksgA knockout strain showed an increased sensitivity to aminoglycoside antibiotics. Overexpression of a catalytically inactive KsgA mutant was deleterious in the knockout strain but not the wild-type strain; this negative phenotype disappeared at low temperature.

Conclusions

This work extends the study of KsgA, allowing comparison of this aspect of ribosome biogenesis between a Gram-negative and a Gram-positive organism. Our results in S. aureus are in contrast to results previously described in E. coli, where the catalytically inactive protein showed a negative phenotype in the presence or absence of endogenous KsgA.

Keywords:
KsgA; Ribosome biogenesis; Staphylococcus aureus; Escherichia coli; Methyltransferase