The Antisense RNA Approach: a New Application for In Vivo Investigation of the Stress Response of Oenococcus oeni, a Wine-Associated Lactic Acid Bacterium.Appl Environ Microbiol. 2016 01 01; 82(1):18-26.AE
Oenococcus oeni is a wine-associated lactic acid bacterium mostly responsible for malolactic fermentation in wine. In wine, O. oeni grows in an environment hostile to bacterial growth (low pH, low temperature, and ethanol) that induces stress response mechanisms. To survive, O. oeni is known to set up transitional stress response mechanisms through the synthesis of heat stress proteins (HSPs) encoded by the hsp genes, notably a unique small HSP named Lo18. Despite the availability of the genome sequence, characterization of O. oeni genes is limited, and little is known about the in vivo role of Lo18. Due to the lack of genetic tools for O. oeni, an efficient expression vector in O. oeni is still lacking, and deletion or inactivation of the hsp18 gene is not presently practicable. As an alternative approach, with the goal of understanding the biological function of the O. oeni hsp18 gene in vivo, we have developed an expression vector to produce antisense RNA targeting of hsp18 mRNA. Recombinant strains were exposed to multiple stresses inducing hsp18 gene expression: heat shock and acid shock. We showed that antisense attenuation of hsp18 affects O. oeni survival under stress conditions. These results confirm the involvement of Lo18 in heat and acid tolerance of O. oeni. Results of anisotropy experiments also confirm a membrane-protective role for Lo18, as previous observations had already suggested. This study describes a new, efficient tool to demonstrate the use of antisense technology for modulating gene expression in O. oeni.