The emetic toxin cereulide produced by Bacillus cereus is synthesized by the modular enzyme complex Ces that is encoded on a pXO1-like mega-plasmid. To decipher the role of the genes adjacent to the structural genes cesA/cesB, coding for the nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS), gene inactivation- and overexpression mutants of the emetic strain F4810/72 were constructed and their impact on cereulide biosynthesis was assessed. The hydrolase CesH turned out to be a part of the complex regulatory network controlling cereulide synthesis on a transcriptional Level, while the ABC transporter CesCD was found to be essential for post-translational control of cereulide synthesis. Using a gene inactivation approach, we show that the NRPS activating function of the phosphopantetheinyl transferase (PPtase) embedded in the ces locus was complemented by a chromosomally encoded Sfp-like PPtase, representing an interesting example for the functional interaction between a plasmid encoded NRPS and a chromosomally encoded activation enzyme. In summary, our results highlight the complexity of cereulide biosynthesis and reveal multiple levels of toxin formation control. ces operon internal genes were shown to play a pivotal role by acting at different levels of toxin production, thus complementing the action of the chromosomal key transcriptional regulators AbrB and CodY.
Lücking, G., Frenzel, E., Rütschle, A., Marxen, S., Stark, T. D., Hofmann, T., … Ehling-Schulz, M. (2015). Ces locus embedded proteins control the non-ribosomal synthesis of the cereulide toxin in emetic Bacillus cereus on multiple levels. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6(OCT). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2015.01101