The YebC Family Protein PA0964 Negatively Regulates the Pseudomonas aeruginosa Quinolone Signal System and Pyocyanin Production
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Bacterial pathogenicity is often manifested by the expression of various cell-associated and secreted virulence factors, such as exoenzymes, protease, and toxins. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the expression of virulence genes is coordinately controlled by the global regulatory quorum-sensing systems, which includes the las and rhl systems as well as the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) system. Phenazine compounds are among the virulence factors under the control of both the rhl and PQS systems. In this study, regulation of the phzA1B1C1D1E1 (phzA1) operon, which is involved in phenazine synthesis, was investigated. In an initial study of inducing conditions, we observed that phzA1 was induced by subinhibitory concentrations of tetracycline. Screening of 13,000 mutants revealed 32 genes that altered phzA1 expression in the presence of subinhibitory tetracycline concentrations. Among them, the gene PA0964, designated pmpR (pqsR-mediated PQS regulator), has been identified as a novel regulator of the PQS system. It belongs to a large group of widespread conserved hypothetical proteins with unknown function, the YebC protein family (Pfam family DUF28). It negatively regulates the quorum-sensing response regulator pqsR of the PQS system by binding at its promoter region. Alongside phzA1 expression and phenazine and pyocyanin production, a set of virulence factors genes controlled by both rhl and the PQS were shown to be modulated by PmpR. Swarming motility and biofilm formation were also significantly affected. The results added another layer of regulation in the rather complex quorum-sensing systems in P. aeruginosa and demonstrated a clear functional clue for the YebC family proteins.
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