Multi-stress resistance is a widely documented and fascinating phenotype of lactococci where single mutations, preferentially in genes involved in nucleotide metabolism and phosphate uptake, result in elevated tolerance to multiple stresses simultaneously. In this report, we have analysed the metabolic basis behind this multi-stress-resistance phenotype in Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris MG1363 using acid stress as a model of multi-stress resistance. Surprisingly, we found that L. lactis MG1363 is fully resistant to pH 3.0 in the chemically defined SA medium, contrary to its sensitivity in the rich and complex M17 medium. When salvage of purines and subsequent conversion to GTP was permitted in various genetic backgrounds of L. lactis MG1363, the cells became sensitive to acid stress, indicating that an excess of guanine nucleotides induces stress sensitivity. The addition of phosphate to the acid-stress medium increased the stress sensitivity of L. lactis MG1363. It is also shown that high intracellular guanine nucleotide pools confer increased sensitivity to high temperatures, thus showing that it is indeed a multi-stress phenotype. Our analysis suggests that an increased level of guanine nucleotides is formed as a result of an improved conversion of guanosine in the salvage pathway. Based upon our findings, we suggest that L. lactis MG1363 is naturally multi-stress resistant in habitats devoid of any purine source. However, any exogenous purine that results in increased guanine nucleotide pools renders the bacterium sensitive to environmental stresses.
Microbiology, 2014, Vol 160, Issue 11, p. 2551-2559