Coordinated Regulation of Two Independent Cell-Cell Signaling Systems and Swarmer Differentiation in Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium
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Almost all members of the genus Salmonella differentiate and migrate on semisolid surfaces in a coordinated population behavior known as swarming. Important virulence determinants are coupled to swarmer differentiation in several other pathogenic organisms, collectively suggesting that conditions that trigger swarming in the laboratory may fortuitously promote the cells to enter a robust physiological state relevant to the host environment. Here, we present evidence that expression of two independent cell-cell signaling systems are also coupled to swarmer differentiation in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium. Expression of both pfs and sdiA genes was up-regulated in the actively migrating swarmers compared to their vegetative counterparts propagated in broth or spread plated on the surface of swim, swarm, and solid media. Accordingly, swarmers produced elevated levels of a universally recognized signaling molecule, autoinducer-2, and exhibited increased sensitivity to N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs), signaling molecules that Salmonella does not produce. Expression of the rck operon was concomitantly up-regulated in the swarmers in an SdiA-dependent manner only in the presence of exogenous AHLs. In addition to the previously reported adaptive antibiotic resistance phenotype and global shift in metabolism, this work presents another component of the physiological changes that are specifically associated with swarmer differentiation in serovar Typhimurium and not simply due to growth on a surface.
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