Campylobacters are a leading cause of gastrointestinal morbidity worldwide and the majority of human infections are triggered by eating foods contaminated withCampylobacter jejuniorCampylobacter coli. Campylobacters are equally notorious for their ability to mimic human glycoconjugate structures and for their capacity to synthesize both N- and O-linked glycoproteins. These species were once considered to be asaccharolytic, but it was recently shown that several strains possess a pathway for fucose uptake and metabolism, providing those isolates with a competitive advantagein vivo. Vorwerket al. have now demonstrated through isotopologue profiling that certain strains ofC. coliandC. jejuniare capable of glucose catabolism through the Entner-Doudoroff and pentose phosphate pathways. However, unlike the fate of fucose that has only been shown to be used for nutrition, glucose can be metabolized or incorporated into select amino acids and glycoconjugates. This discovery now provides researchers with the opportunity to introduce metabolically labeled sugars into campylobacters to study glycoconjugate biosynthesis within the cell. In addition, Vorwerket al. add to the metabolic arsenal of campylobacters further highlighting the nutritional diversity among strains, even within the same species.
Campylobacters no longer only obtain energy from amino acids. Vorwerk et al. have demonstrated that some C. coli and C. jejuni isolates catabolize glucose through the Entner-Doudoroff and pentose phosphate pathways. These strains also use glucose for the de novo synthesis of amino acids and cell surface carbohydrates. The authors demonstrate both intra- and interspecies propagation of this locus and suggest that glucose catabolism could potentially enhance the in vivo persistence of glycolytic campylobacters.