April 21, 2020  |  

Identification and characterization of OmpT-like proteases in uropathogenic Escherichia coli clinical isolates

Authors: Desloges, Isabelle and Taylor, James A and Leclerc, Jean-Mathieu and Brannon, John R and Portt, Andrea and Spencer, John D and Dewar, Ken and Marczynski, Gregory T and Manges, Amee and Gruenheid, Samantha and others

Bacterial colonization of the urogenital tract is limited by innate defenses, including the production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) resist AMP-killing to cause a range of urinary tract infections (UTIs) including asymptomatic bacteriuria, cystitis, pyelonephritis, and sepsis. UPEC strains have high genomic diversity and encode numerous virulence factors that differentiate them from non-UTI causing strains, including ompT. As OmpT homologues cleave and inactivate AMPs, we hypothesized that high OmpT protease activity-levels contribute to UPEC colonization during symptomatic UTIs. Therefore, we measured OmpT activity in 58 UPEC clinical isolates. While heterogeneous OmpT activities were observed, OmpT activity was significantly greater in UPEC strains isolated from patients with symptomatic infections. Unexpectedly, UPEC strains exhibiting the greatest protease activities harboured an additional ompT-like gene called arlC (ompTp). The presence of two OmpT-like proteases in some UPEC isolates led us to compare the substrate specificities of OmpT-like proteases found in E. coli. While all three cleaved AMPs, cleavage efficiency varied on the basis of AMP size and secondary structure. Our findings suggest the presence ArlC and OmpT in the same UPEC isolate may confer a fitness advantage by expanding the range of target substrates.

Journal: BioRxiv
DOI: 10.1101/594564
Year: 2019

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