Listeria monocytogenes senses blue light via the flavin mononucleotide-containing sensory protein Lmo0799, leading to activation of the general stress response sigma factor SigB (sigma(B)). In this study, we investigated the physiological response of this foodborne pathogen to blue light. We show that blue light (460 to 470 nm) doses of 1.5 to 2 mW cm(-2) cause inhibition of growth on agar-based and liquid culture media. The inhibitory effects are dependent on cell density, with reduced effects evident when high cell numbers are present. The addition of 20 mM dimethylthiourea, a scavenger of reactive oxygen species, or catalase to the medium reverses the inhibitory effects of blue light, suggesting that growth inhibition is mediated by the formation of reactive oxygen species. A mutant strain lacking sigma(B) (Delta sigB) was found to be less inhibited by blue light than the wild type, likely indicating the energetic cost of deploying the general stress response. When a lethal dose of light (8 mW cm(-2)) was applied to cells, the Delta sigB mutant displayed a marked increase in sensitivity to light compared to the wild type. To investigate the role of the blue-light sensor Lmo0799, mutants were constructed that either had a deletion of the gene (Delta lmo0799) or alteration in a conserved cysteine residue at position 56, which is predicted to play a pivotal role in the photocycle of the protein (lmo0799 C56A). Both mutants displayed phenotypes similar to the Delta sigB mutant in the presence of blue light, providing genetic evidence that residue 56 is critical for light sensing in L. monocytogenes. Taken together, these results demonstrate that L. monocytogenes is inhibited by blue light in a manner that depends on reactive oxygen species, and they demonstrate clear light-dependent phenotypes associated with sigma(B) and the blue-light sensor Lmo0799.
2016. Vol. 82, no 13, 4017-4027 p.