• Virulence of Agrobacterium tumefaciens requires lipid homeostasis mediated by the lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol hydrolase AcvB.

      Groenewold, Maike K; Hebecker, Stefanie; Fritz, Christiane; Czolkoss, Simon; Wiesselmann, Milan; Heinz, Dirk W; Jahn, Dieter; Narberhaus, Franz; Aktas, Meriyem; Moser, Jürgen; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019-01-01)
      Agrobacterium tumefaciens transfers oncogenic T-DNA via the type IV secretion system (T4SS) into plants causing tumor formation. The acvB gene encodes a virulence factor of unknown function required for plant transformation. Here we specify AcvB as a periplasmic lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (L-PG) hydrolase, which modulates L-PG homeostasis. Through functional characterization of recombinant AcvB variants, we showed that the C-terminal domain of AcvB (residues 232-456) is sufficient for full enzymatic activity and defined key residues for catalysis. Absence of the hydrolase resulted in ~10-fold increase in L-PG in Agrobacterium membranes and abolished T-DNA transfer and tumor formation. Overproduction of the L-PG synthase gene (lpiA) in wild-type A. tumefaciens resulted in a similar increase in the L-PG content (~7-fold) and a virulence defect even in the presence of intact AcvB. These results suggest that elevated L-PG amounts (either by overproduction of the synthase or absence of the hydrolase) are responsible for the virulence phenotype. Gradually increasing the L-PG content by complementation with different acvB variants revealed that cellular L-PG levels above 3% of total phospholipids interfere with T-DNA transfer. Cumulatively, this study identified AcvB as a novel virulence factor required for membrane lipid homeostasis and T-DNA transfer.