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1.  Cell-associated hemolysis activity in the clinical strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens MFN1032 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:124.
MFN1032 is a clinical Pseudomonas fluorescens strain able to grow at 37°C. MFN1032 cells induce necrosis and apoptosis in rat glial cells at this temperature. This strain displays secretion-mediated hemolytic activity involving phospholipase C and cyclolipopeptides. Under laboratory conditions, this activity is not expressed at 37°C. This activity is tightly regulated and is subject to phase variation.
We found that MFN1032 displays a cell-associated hemolytic activity distinct from the secreted hemolytic activity. Cell-associated hemolysis was expressed at 37°C and was only detected in vitro in mid log growth phase in the presence of erythrocytes. We studied the regulation of this activity in the wild-type strain and in a mutant defective in the Gac two-component pathway. GacS/GacA is a negative regulator of this activity. In contrast to the Pseudomonas fluorescens strains PfO-1 and Pf5, whose genomes have been sequenced, the MFN1032 strain has the type III secretion-like genes hrcRST belonging to the hrpU operon. We showed that disruption of this operon abolished cell-associated hemolytic activity. This activity was not detected in P.fluorescens strains carrying similar hrc genes, as for the P. fluorescens psychrotrophic strain MF37.
To our knowledge this the first demonstration of cell-associated hemolytic activity of a clinical strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens. Moreover, this activity seems to be related to a functional hrpU operon and is independent of biosurfactant production. Precise link between a functional hrpU operon and cell-associated hemolytic activity remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC2871272  PMID: 20416103
2.  Involvement of a phospholipase C in the hemolytic activity of a clinical strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:189.
Pseudomonas fluorescens is a ubiquitous Gram-negative bacterium frequently encountered in hospitals as a contaminant of injectable material and surfaces. This psychrotrophic bacterium, commonly described as unable to grow at temperatures above 32°C, is now considered non pathogenic. We studied a recently identified clinical strain of P. fluorescens biovar I, MFN1032, which is considered to cause human lung infection and can grow at 37°C in laboratory conditions.
We found that MFN1032 secreted extracellular factors with a lytic potential at least as high as that of MF37, a psychrotrophic strain of P. fluorescens or the mesophilic opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. We demonstrated the direct, and indirect – through increases in biosurfactant release – involvement of a phospholipase C in the hemolytic activity of this bacterium. Sequence analysis assigned this phospholipase C to a new group of phospholipases C different from those produced by P. aeruginosa. We show that changes in PlcC production have pleiotropic effects and that plcC overexpression and plcC extinction increase MFN1032 toxicity and colonization, respectively.
This study provides the first demonstration that a PLC is involved in the secreted hemolytic activity of a clinical strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens. Moreover, this phospholipase C seems to belong to a complex biological network associated with the biosurfactant production.
PMCID: PMC2613904  PMID: 18973676
3.  Boolean Models of Biosurfactants Production in Pseudomonas fluorescens 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e24651.
Cyclolipopeptides (CLPs) are biosurfactants produced by numerous Pseudomonas fluorescens strains. CLP production is known to be regulated at least by the GacA/GacS two-component pathway, but the full regulatory network is yet largely unknown. In the clinical strain MFN1032, CLP production is abolished by a mutation in the phospholipase C gene () and not restored by complementation. Their production is also subject to phenotypic variation. We used a modelling approach with Boolean networks, which takes into account all these observations concerning CLP production without any assumption on the topology of the considered network. Intensive computation yielded numerous models that satisfy these properties. All models minimizing the number of components point to a bistability in CLP production, which requires the presence of a yet unknown key self-inducible regulator. Furthermore, all suggest that a set of yet unexplained phenotypic variants might also be due to this epigenetic switch. The simplest of these Boolean networks was used to propose a biological regulatory network for CLP production. This modelling approach has allowed a possible regulation to be unravelled and an unusual behaviour of CLP production in P. fluorescens to be explained.
PMCID: PMC3269426  PMID: 22303435
4.  Altered localization of HrpZ in Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae hrp mutants suggests that different components of the type III secretion pathway control protein translocation across the inner and outer membranes of gram-negative bacteria. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(12):3866-3874.
Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae 61 (Pss61) secretes the HrpZ harpin by a type III protein secretion pathway encoded by a cluster of hrp (hypersensitive response and pathogenicity) and hrc genes. The nine hrc genes represent a subset of hrp genes that are also conserved in the type III virulence protein secretion systems of animal pathogenic Yersinia, Shigella, and Salmonella spp. The hrpJ and hrpU operons contain seven hrc genes (counting hrcQ(A) and hrcQ(B) as one gene), all with additional homologs involved in flagellar biogenesis and secretion, and five of which encode predicted inner membrane proteins. The hrpC and hrpZ operons encode HrcC and HrcJ, respectively, which are associated with the outer membrane. Interposon mutants affected in all of the hrc genes in the hrpJ and hrpU operons and TnphoA-induced hrcC and hrcJ mutants were assayed for altered localization of HrpZ in mid-log-phase cultures by immunoblotting sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels that were run with various cell fractions. The hrpJ and hrpU operon mutants revealed a novel phenotype of partially reduced accumulation of HrpZ in the total culture (despite wild-type levels of hrpZ operon transcription), all of which was cell bound and equivalent in level to that of cell-bound HrpZ in the wild type. The hrcC and hrcJ mutant cultures accumulated the same total amount of HrpZ as the wild type, but the HrpZ was cell bound. Among all the strains tested, only the hrcC mutant accumulated significant amounts of HrpZ in the periplasm, as indicated by selective release through spheroplasting. Analysis of nonpolar mutations in the hrpU and hrpC operons support the results obtained with polar mutations. These observations indicate that a constant pool of HrpZ is maintained in the cytoplasm of Pss61 despite secretion deficiencies, that the hrpJ and hrpU operons encode an alternative to the Sec (general protein export) pathway for translocation across the inner membrane, that genes in the hrpC operon are necessary for translocation across the outer membrane, and that the Pss61 Hrp system permits study of two genetically distinguishable stages in type III protein secretion.
PMCID: PMC179194  PMID: 9190801
5.  The clinical Pseudomonas fluorescens MFN1032 strain exerts a cytotoxic effect on epithelial intestinal cells and induces Interleukin-8 via the AP-1 signaling pathway 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:215.
Pseudomonas fluorescens is present in low number in the intestinal lumen and has been proposed to play a role in Crohn's disease (CD). Indeed, a highly specific antigen, I2, has been detected in CD patients and correlated to the severity of the disease. We aimed to determine whether P. fluorescens was able to adhere to human intestinal epithelial cells (IECs), induce cytotoxicity and activate a proinflammatory response.
Behaviour of the clinical strain P. fluorescens MFN1032 was compared to that of the psychrotrophic strain P. fluorescens MF37 and the opportunistic pathogen P. aeruginosa PAO1. Both strains of P. fluorescens were found to adhere on Caco-2/TC7 and HT-29 cells. Their cytotoxicity towards these two cell lines determined by LDH release assays was dose-dependent and higher for the clinical strain MFN1032 than for MF37 but lower than P. aeruginosa PAO1. The two strains of P. fluorescens also induced IL-8 secretion by Caco-2/TC7 and HT-29 cells via the AP-1 signaling pathway whereas P. aeruginosa PAO1 potentially used the NF-κB pathway.
The present work shows, for the first time, that P. fluorescens MFN1032 is able to adhere to IECs, exert cytotoxic effects and induce a proinflammatory reaction. Our results are consistent with a possible contribution of P. fluorescens in CD and could explain the presence of specific antibodies against this bacterium in the blood of patients.
PMCID: PMC2933668  PMID: 20698984
6.  Type Three Secretion System in Pseudomonas savastanoi Pathovars: Does Timing Matter? 
Genes  2011;2(4):957-979.
Pseudomonas savastanoi pv. savastanoi is the causal agent of Olive knot disease, relying on the Type Three Secretion System (TTSS) for its pathogenicity. In this regard, nothing was known about the two other pathovars belonging to this species, pv. nerii and pv. fraxini, characterized by a different host range. Here we report on the organization of the entire TTSS cluster on the three pathovars, and a phylogenetic analysis including the TTSS of those bacteria belonging to the P. syringae complex sequenced so far, highlighting the evolution of each operon (hrpC, hrpJ, hrpRS, hrpU and hrpZ). Moreover, by Real-Time PCR we analyzed the in vitro expression of four main TTSS genes, revealing different activation patterns in the three pathovars, hypothetically related to their diverse virulence behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3927595  PMID: 24710300
Type Three Secretion System; hrp; Pseudomonas syringae; Pseudomonas savastanoi; evolution; recombination; gene expression; regulation
7.  Effect of GABA, a Bacterial Metabolite, on Pseudomonas fluorescens Surface Properties and Cytotoxicity 
Different bacterial species and, particularly Pseudomonas fluorescens, can produce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and express GABA-binding proteins. In this study, we investigated the effect of GABA on the virulence and biofilm formation activity of different strains of P. fluorescens. Exposure of a psychotropic strain of P. fluorescens (MF37) to GABA (10−5 M) increased its necrotic-like activity on eukaryotic (glial) cells, but reduced its apoptotic effect. Conversely, muscimol and bicuculline, the selective agonist and antagonist of eukaryote GABAA receptors, respectively, were ineffective. P. fluorescens MF37 did not produce biosurfactants, and its caseinase, esterase, amylase, hemolytic activity or pyoverdine productions were unchanged. In contrast, the effect of GABA was associated to rearrangements of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) structure, particularly in the lipid A region. The surface hydrophobicity of MF37 was marginally modified, and GABA reduced its biofilm formation activity on PVC, but not on glass, although the initial adhesion was increased. Five other P. fluorescens strains were studied, and only one, MFP05, a strain isolated from human skin, showed structural differences of biofilm maturation after exposure to GABA. These results reveal that GABA can regulate the LPS structure and cytotoxicity of P. fluorescens, but that this property is specific to some strains.
PMCID: PMC3709781  PMID: 23743829
host-microbial interactions; cytotoxicity; virulence; bacterial adhesion; lipopolysaccharide; biofilms; pyoverdine
8.  SlyA Regulates Type III Secretion System (T3SS) Genes in Parallel with the T3SS Master Regulator HrpL in Dickeya dadantii 3937 
The hypersensitive response and pathogenicity (hrp) genes of Dickeya dadantii 3937 encode a type III secretion system (T3SS) which is essential for its full virulence. Previous studies of the T3SS regulation in D. dadantii 3937 revealed that the expression of the hrp genes is regulated by a master regulator, HrpL, through the HrpX-HrpY-HrpS-HrpL and GacS-GacA-rsmB-RsmA pathways. In this work, we identified a novel regulator of the SlyA/MarR family, SlyA, which regulates hrp genes of the HrpL regulon in parallel with HrpL in D. dadantii. SlyA regulates the T3SS in a two-tier manner. It negatively regulates the expression of hrpL by downregulating hrpS and upregulating rsmA. Interestingly, concomitant with its downregulation of the hrpL, SlyA positively regulates the expression of hrpA and hrpN, two hrp genes located in the HrpL regulon. In contrast to Pectobacterium carotovorum, the expression of slyA is not controlled by ExpR and ExpI in D. dadantii 3937. We further show that SlyA is involved in controlling swimming motility and pellicle formation in D. dadantii 3937.
PMCID: PMC3318817  PMID: 22267675
9.  Rhizosphere Selection of Highly Motile Phenotypic Variants of Pseudomonas fluorescens with Enhanced Competitive Colonization Ability 
Phenotypic variants of Pseudomonas fluorescens F113 showing a translucent and diffuse colony morphology show enhanced colonization of the alfalfa rhizosphere. We have previously shown that in the biocontrol agent P. fluorescens F113, phenotypic variation is mediated by the activity of two site-specific recombinases, Sss and XerD. By overexpressing the genes encoding either of the recombinases, we have now generated a large number of variants (mutants) after selection either by prolonged laboratory cultivation or by rhizosphere passage. All the isolated variants were more motile than the wild-type strain and appear to contain mutations in the gacA and/or gacS gene. By disrupting these genes and complementation analysis, we have observed that the Gac system regulates swimming motility by a repression pathway. Variants isolated after selection by prolonged cultivation formed a single population with a swimming motility that was equal to the motility of gac mutants, being 150% more motile than the wild type. The motility phenotype of these variants was complemented by the cloned gac genes. Variants isolated after rhizosphere selection belonged to two different populations: one identical to the population isolated after prolonged cultivation and the other comprising variants that besides a gac mutation harbored additional mutations conferring higher motility. Our results show that gac mutations are selected both in the stationary phase and during rhizosphere colonization. The enhanced motility phenotype is in turn selected during rhizosphere colonization. Several of these highly motile variants were more competitive than the wild-type strain, displacing it from the root tip within 2 weeks.
PMCID: PMC1472367  PMID: 16672487
10.  Contribution of the Global Regulator Gene gacA to Persistence and Dissemination of Pseudomonas fluorescens Biocontrol Strain CHA0 Introduced into Soil Microcosms 
Structural and regulatory genes involved in the synthesis of antimicrobial metabolites are essential for the biocontrol activity of fluorescent pseudomonads and, in principle, amenable to genetic engineering for strain improvement. An eventual large-scale release of such bacteria raises the question of whether such genes also contribute to the persistence and dissemination of the bacteria in soil ecosystems. Pseudomonas fluorescens wild-type strain CHA0 protects plants against a variety of fungal diseases and produces several antimicrobial metabolites. The regulatory gene gacA globally controls antibiotic production and is crucial for disease suppression in CHA0. This gene also regulates the production of extracellular protease and phospholipase. The contribution of gacA to survival and vertical translocation of CHA0 in soil microcosms of increasing complexity was studied in coinoculation experiments with the wild type and a gacA mutant which lacks antibiotics and some exoenzymes. Both strains were marked with spontaneous resistance to rifampin. In a closed system with sterile soil, strain CHA0 and the gacA mutant multiplied for several weeks, whereas these strains declined exponentially in nonsterile soil of different Swiss origins. The gacA mutant was less persistent in nonrhizosphere raw soil than was the wild type, but no competitive disadvantage when colonizing the rhizosphere and roots of wheat was found in the particular soil type and during the period studied. Vertical translocation was assessed after strains had been applied to undisturbed, long (60-cm) or short (20-cm) soil columns, both planted with wheat. A smaller number of cells of the gacA mutant than of the wild type were detected in the percolated water and in different depths of the soil column. Single-strain inoculation gave similar results in all microcosms tested. We conclude that mutation in a single regulatory gene involved in antibiotic and exoenzyme synthesis can affect the survival of P. fluorescens more profoundly in unplanted soil than in the rhizosphere.
PMCID: PMC201683  PMID: 16349332
11.  Thiamine-Auxotrophic Mutants of Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0 Are Defective in Cell-Cell Signaling and Biocontrol Factor Expression 
In the biocontrol strain Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0, the Gac/Rsm signal transduction pathway positively controls the synthesis of antifungal secondary metabolites and exoenzymes. In this way, the GacS/GacA two-component system determines the expression of three small regulatory RNAs (RsmX, RsmY, and RsmZ) in a process activated by the strain's own signal molecules, which are not related to N-acyl-homoserine lactones. Transposon Tn5 was used to isolate P. fluorescens CHA0 insertion mutants that expressed an rsmZ-gfp fusion at reduced levels. Five of these mutants were gacS negative, and in them the gacS mutation could be complemented for exoproduct and signal synthesis by the gacS wild-type allele. Furthermore, two thiamine-auxotrophic (thiC) mutants that exhibited decreased signal synthesis in the presence of 5 × 10−8 M thiamine were found. Under these conditions, a thiC mutant grew normally but showed reduced expression of the three small RNAs, the exoprotease AprA, and the antibiotic 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol. In a gnotobiotic system, a thiC mutant was impaired for biological control of Pythium ultimum on cress. Addition of excess exogenous thiamine restored all deficiencies of the mutant. Thus, thiamine appears to be an important factor in the expression of biological control by P. fluorescens.
PMCID: PMC1449068  PMID: 16597964
12.  Genetic evidence that the gacA gene encodes the cognate response regulator for the lemA sensor in Pseudomonas syringae. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1994;176(24):7468-7475.
Mutational analysis of the bean-pathogenic Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae strain B728a has led to the genetic identification of the gacA gene as encoding the response regulator for the unlinked lemA sensor kinase. The analysis of a collection of spontaneous mutants of P. syringae pv. syringae suggested that the gacA gene was involved in lesion formation and the production of protease and syringomycin. The gacA gene originally was identified as a regulator of extracellular antibiotic production by Pseudomonas fluorescens, and the predicted GacA protein is a member of the FixJ family of bacterial response regulators. The sequence of the putative B728a GacA protein revealed 92% identity with the P. fluorescens GacA protein. An insertional mutation within the P. syringae pv. syringae gacA gene abrogated lesion formation on beans, production of extracellular protease, and production of the toxin syringomycin, the same phenotypes affected by a lemA mutation. DNA sequence analysis identified the P. syringae pv. syringae uvrC gene immediately downstream of the gacA gene, an arrangement conserved in P. fluorescens and Escherichia coli. The gacA insertional mutant was sensitive to UV, presumably because of polarity on transcription of the downstream uvrC gene. Southwestern (DNA-protein) analysis revealed that the lemA and gacA genes were required for the full expression of a DNA binding activity.
PMCID: PMC197202  PMID: 8002569
13.  Association of Hemolytic Activity of Pseudomonas entomophila, a Versatile Soil Bacterium, with Cyclic Lipopeptide Production▿ †  
Pseudomonas entomophila is an entomopathogenic bacterium that is able to infect and kill Drosophila melanogaster upon ingestion. Its genome sequence suggests that it is a versatile soil bacterium closely related to Pseudomonas putida. The GacS/GacA two-component system plays a key role in P. entomophila pathogenicity, controlling many putative virulence factors and AprA, a secreted protease important to escape the fly immune response. P. entomophila secretes a strong diffusible hemolytic activity. Here, we showed that this activity is linked to the production of a new cyclic lipopeptide containing 14 amino acids and a 3-C10OH fatty acid that we called entolysin. Three nonribosomal peptide synthetases (EtlA, EtlB, EtlC) were identified as responsible for entolysin biosynthesis. Two additional components (EtlR, MacAB) are necessary for its production and secretion. The P. entomophila GacS/GacA two-component system regulates entolysin production, and we demonstrated that its functioning requires two small RNAs and two RsmA-like proteins. Finally, entolysin is required for swarming motility, as described for other lipopeptides, but it does not participate in the virulence of P. entomophila for Drosophila. While investigating the physiological role of entolysin, we also uncovered new phenotypes associated with P. entomophila, including strong biocontrol abilities.
PMCID: PMC2812987  PMID: 20023108
14.  Type III Secretion System Genes of Dickeya dadantii 3937 Are Induced by Plant Phenolic Acids 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e2973.
Dickeya dadantii is a broad-host range phytopathogen. D. dadantii 3937 (Ech3937) possesses a type III secretion system (T3SS), a major virulence factor secretion system in many Gram-negative pathogens of plants and animals. In Ech3937, the T3SS is regulated by two major regulatory pathways, HrpX/HrpY-HrpS-HrpL and GacS/GacA-rsmB-RsmA pathways. Although the plant apoplast environment, low pH, low temperature, and absence of complex nitrogen sources in media have been associated with the induction of T3SS genes of phytobacteria, no specific inducer has yet been identified.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this work, we identified two novel plant phenolic compounds, o-coumaric acid (OCA) and t-cinnamic acid (TCA), that induced the expression of T3SS genes dspE (a T3SS effector), hrpA (a structural protein of the T3SS pilus), and hrpN (a T3SS harpin) in vitro. Assays by qRT-PCR showed higher amounts of mRNA of hrpL (a T3SS alternative sigma factor) and rsmB (an untranslated regulatory RNA), but not hrpS (a σ54-enhancer binding protein) of Ech3937 when these two plant compounds were supplemented into minimal medium (MM). However, promoter activity assays using flow cytometry showed similar promoter activities of hrpN in rsmB mutant Ech148 grown in MM and MM supplemented with these phenolic compounds. Compared with MM alone, only slightly higher promoter activities of hrpL were observed in bacterial cells grown in MM supplemented with OCA/TCA.
The induction of T3SS expression by OCA and TCA is moderated through the rsmB-RsmA pathway. This is the first report of plant phenolic compounds that induce the expression T3SS genes of plant pathogenic bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2494611  PMID: 18698421
15.  Enhancer-Binding Proteins HrpR and HrpS Interact To Regulate hrp-Encoded Type III Protein Secretion in Pseudomonas syringae Strains 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(19):5589-5598.
In Pseudomonas syringae strains, the hrp-hrc pathogenicity island consists of an HrpL-dependent regulon that encodes a type III protein translocation complex and translocated effector proteins required for pathogenesis. HrpR and HrpS function as positive regulatory factors for the hrpL promoter, but their mechanism of action has not been established. Both HrpR and HrpS are structurally related to enhancer-binding proteins, but they lack receiver domains and do not appear to require a cognate protein kinase for activity. hrpR and hrpS were shown to be expressed as an operon: a promoter was identified 5′ to hrpR, and reverse transcriptase PCR detected the presence of an hrpRS transcript. The hrpR promoter and coding sequence were conserved among P. syringae strains. The coding sequences for hrpR and hrpS were cloned into compatible expression vectors, and their activities were monitored in Escherichia coli transformants carrying an hrpL′-lacZ fusion. HrpS could function as a weak activator of the hrpL promoter, but the activity was only 2.5% of the activity detected when both HrpR and HrpS were expressed in the reporter strain. This finding is consistent with a requirement for both HrpR and HrpS in the activation of the hrpL promoter. By using a yeast two-hybrid assay, an interaction between HrpR and HrpS was detected, suggestive of the formation of a heteromeric complex. Physical interaction of HrpR and HrpS was confirmed by column-binding experiments. The results show that HrpR and HrpS physically interact to regulate the ς54-dependent hrpL promoter in P. syringae strains.
PMCID: PMC95450  PMID: 11544221
16.  Mangotoxin production of Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae is regulated by MgoA 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:46.
The antimetabolite mangotoxin is a key factor in virulence of Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae strains which cause apical necrosis of mango trees. Previous studies showed that mangotoxin biosynthesis is governed by the mbo operon. Random mutagenesis led to the identification of two other gene clusters that affect mangotoxin biosynthesis. These are the gacS/gacA genes and mgo operon which harbors the four genes mgoBCAD.
The current study shows that disruption of the nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) gene mgoA resulted in loss of mangotoxin production and reduced virulence on tomato leaves. Transcriptional analyses by qPCR and promoter reporter fusions revealed that mbo expression is regulated by both gacS/gacA and mgo genes. Also, expression of the mgo operon was shown to be regulated by gacS/gacA. Heterologous expression under the native promoter of the mbo operon resulted in mangotoxin production in non-producing P. syringae strains, but not in other Pseudomonas species. Also introduction of the mbo and mgo operons in nonproducing P. protegens Pf-5 did not confer mangotoxin production but did enhance transcription of the mbo promoter.
From the data obtained in this study, we conclude that both mbo and mgo operons are under the control of the gacS/gacA two-component system and that the MgoA product acts as a positive regulator of mangotoxin biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC3945005  PMID: 24555804
Antimetabolite toxin; mgo operon; GacS/GacA; Plant-microbe interaction
17.  Three independent signalling pathways repress motility in Pseudomonas fluorescens F113 
Microbial biotechnology  2009;2(4):489-498.
Motility is one of the most important traits for rhizosphere colonization by pseudomonads. Despite this importance, motility is severely repressed in the rhizosphere‐colonizing strain Pseudomonas fluorescens F113. This bacterium is unable to swarm under laboratory conditions and produce relatively small swimming haloes. However, phenotypic variants with the ability to swarm and producing swimming haloes up to 300% larger than the wild‐type strain, arise during rhizosphere colonization. These variants harbour mutations in the genes encoding the GacA/GacS two‐component system and in other genes. In order to identify genes and pathways implicated in motility repression, we have used generalized mutagenesis with transposons. Analysis of the mutants has shown that besides the Gac system, the Wsp system and the sadB gene, which have been previously implicated in cyclic di‐GMP turnover, are implicated in motility repression: mutants in the gacS, sadB or wspR genes can swarm and produce swimming haloes larger than the wild‐type strain. Epistasis analysis has shown that the pathways defined by each of these genes are independent, because double and triple mutants show an additive phenotype. Furthermore, GacS, SadB and WspR act at different levels. Expression of the fleQ gene, encoding the master regulator of flagella synthesis is higher in the gacS‐ and sadB‐ backgrounds than in the wild‐type strain and this differential expression is reflected by a higher secretion of the flagellin protein FliC. Conversely, no differences in fleQ expression or FliC secretion were observed between the wild‐type strain and the wspR‐ mutant.
PMCID: PMC3815909  PMID: 21255280
18.  The Global Regulator Genes from Biocontrol Strain Serratia plymuthica IC1270: Cloning, Sequencing, and Functional Studies†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(15):4986-4993.
The biocontrol activity of various fluorescent pseudomonads towards plant-pathogenic fungi is dependent upon the GacA/GacS-type two-component system of global regulators and the RpoS transcription sigma factor. In particular, these components are required for the production of antifungal antibiotics and exoenzymes. To investigate the effects of these global regulators on the expression of biocontrol factors by plant-associated bacteria other than Pseudomonas spp., gacA/gacS and rpoS homologues were cloned from biocontrol strain IC1270 of Serratia plymuthica, which produces a set of antifungal compounds, including chitinolytic enzymes and the antibiotic pyrrolnitrin. The nucleotide and deduced protein sequence alignments of the cloned gacA/gacS-like genes—tentatively designated grrA (global response regulation activator) and grrS (global response regulation sensor) and of the cloned rpoS gene revealed 64 to 93% identity with matching genes and proteins of the enteric bacteria Escherichia coli, Pectobacterium carotovora subsp. carotovora, and Serratia marcescens. grrA, grrS, and rpoS gene replacement mutants of strain IC1270 were deficient in the production of pyrrolnitrin, an exoprotease, and N-acylhomoserine lactone quorum-sensing signal molecules. However, neither mutant appeared to differ from the parental strain in the production of siderophores, and only grrA and grrS mutants were deficient in the production of a 58-kDa endochitinase, representing the involvement of other sigma factors in the regulation of strain IC1270's chitinolytic activity. Compared to the parental strain, the grrA, grrS, and rpoS mutants were markedly less capable of suppressing Rhizoctonia solani and Pythium aphanidermatum under greenhouse conditions, indicating the dependence of strain IC1270's biocontrol property on the GrrA/GrrS and RpoS global regulators.
PMCID: PMC451636  PMID: 15262936
19.  Extracellular Protease of Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0, a Biocontrol Factor with Activity against the Root-Knot Nematode Meloidogyne incognita 
In Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0, mutation of the GacA-controlled aprA gene (encoding the major extracellular protease) or the gacA regulatory gene resulted in reduced biocontrol activity against the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita during tomato and soybean infection. Culture supernatants of strain CHA0 inhibited egg hatching and induced mortality of M. incognita juveniles more strongly than did supernatants of aprA and gacA mutants, suggesting that AprA protease contributes to biocontrol.
PMCID: PMC1214651  PMID: 16151170
20.  Negative Regulation of hrp Genes in Pseudomonas syringae by HrpV 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(17):4532-4537.
Mutations in the five hrp and hrc genes in the hrpC operon of the phytopathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae 61 have different effects on bacterial interactions with host and nonhost plants. The hrcC gene within the hrpC operon encodes an outer membrane component of the Hrp secretion system that is conserved in all type III protein secretion systems and is required for most pathogenic phenotypes and for secretion of the HrpZ harpin to the bacterial milieu. The other four genes (in order), hrpF, hrpG, (hrcC), hrpT, and hrpV, appear to be unique to the group I hrp clusters found in certain phytopathogens (e.g., P. syringae and Erwinia amylovora) and are less well understood. We initiated an examination of their role in Hrp regulation and secretion by determining the effects of functionally nonpolar nptII cartridge insertions in each gene on the production and secretion of HrpZ, as determined by immunoblot analysis of cell fractions. P. syringae pv. syringae 61 hrpF, hrpG, and hrpT mutants were unable to secrete HrpZ, whereas the hrpV mutant overproduced and secreted the protein. This suggested that HrpV is a negative regulator of HrpZ production. Further immunoblot assays showed that the hrpV mutant produced higher levels of proteins encoded by all three of the major hrp operons tested—HrcJ (hrpZ operon), HrcC (hrpC operon), and HrcQB (hrpU operon)—and that constitutive expression of hrpV in trans abolished the production of each of these proteins. To determine the hierarchy of HrpV regulation in the P. syringae pv. syringae 61 positive regulatory cascade, which is composed of HrpRS (proteins homologous with ς54-dependent promoter-enhancer-binding proteins) and HrpL (alternate sigma factor), we tested the ability of constitutively expressed hrpV to repress the activation of HrcJ production that normally accompanies constitutive expression of hrpL or hrpRS. No repression was observed, indicating that HrpV acts upstream of HrpRS in the cascade. The effect of HrpV levels on transcription of the hrpZ operon was determined by monitoring the levels of β-glucuronidase produced by a hrpA′::uidA transcriptional fusion plasmid in different P. syringae pv. syringae 61 strains. The hrpV mutant produced higher levels of β-glucuronidase than the wild type, a hrcU (type III secretion) mutant produced the same level as the wild type, and the strain constitutively expressing hrpV in trans produced low levels equivalent to that of a hrpS mutant. These results suggest that HrpF, HrpG, and HrpT are all components of the type III protein secretion system whereas HrpV is a negative regulator of transcription of the Hrp regulon.
PMCID: PMC107464  PMID: 9721292
21.  Pseudomonas fluorescens F113 Mutant with Enhanced Competitive Colonization Ability and Improved Biocontrol Activity against Fungal Root Pathogens ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(15):5412-5419.
Motility is one of the most important traits for efficient rhizosphere colonization by Pseudomonas fluorescens F113rif (F113). In this bacterium, motility is a polygenic trait that is repressed by at least three independent pathways, including the Gac posttranscriptional system, the Wsp chemotaxis-like pathway, and the SadB pathway. Here we show that the kinB gene, which encodes a signal transduction protein that together with AlgB has been implicated in alginate production, participates in swimming motility repression through the Gac pathway, acting downstream of the GacAS two-component system. Gac mutants are impaired in secondary metabolite production and are unsuitable as biocontrol agents. However, the kinB mutant and a triple mutant affected in kinB, sadB, and wspR (KSW) possess a wild-type phenotype for secondary metabolism. The KSW strain is hypermotile and more competitive for rhizosphere colonization than the wild-type strain. We have compared the biocontrol activity of KSW with those of the wild-type strain and a phenotypic variant (F113v35 [V35]) which is hypermotile and hypercompetitive but is affected in secondary metabolism since it harbors a gacS mutation. Biocontrol experiments in the Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici/Lycopersicum esculentum (tomato) and Phytophthora cactorum/Fragaria vesca (strawberry) pathosystems have shown that the three strains possess biocontrol activity. Biocontrol activity was consistently lower for V35, indicating that the production of secondary metabolites was the most important trait for biocontrol. Strain KSW showed improved biocontrol compared with the wild-type strain, indicating that an increase in competitive colonization ability resulted in improved biocontrol and that the rational design of biocontrol agents by mutation is feasible.
PMCID: PMC3147442  PMID: 21685161
22.  Variable Suites of Non-effector Genes Are Co-regulated in the Type III Secretion Virulence Regulon across the Pseudomonas syringae Phylogeny 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(1):e1003807.
Pseudomonas syringae is a phylogenetically diverse species of Gram-negative bacterial plant pathogens responsible for crop diseases around the world. The HrpL sigma factor drives expression of the major P. syringae virulence regulon. HrpL controls expression of the genes encoding the structural and functional components of the type III secretion system (T3SS) and the type three secreted effector proteins (T3E) that are collectively essential for virulence. HrpL also regulates expression of an under-explored suite of non-type III effector genes (non-T3E), including toxin production systems and operons not previously associated with virulence. We implemented and refined genome-wide transcriptional analysis methods using cDNA-derived high-throughput sequencing (RNA-seq) data to characterize the HrpL regulon from six isolates of P. syringae spanning the diversity of the species. Our transcriptomes, mapped onto both complete and draft genomes, significantly extend earlier studies. We confirmed HrpL-regulation for a majority of previously defined T3E genes in these six strains. We identified two new T3E families from P. syringae pv. oryzae 1_6, a strain within the relatively underexplored phylogenetic Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) group IV. The HrpL regulons varied among strains in gene number and content across both their T3E and non-T3E gene suites. Strains within MLST group II consistently express the lowest number of HrpL-regulated genes. We identified events leading to recruitment into, and loss from, the HrpL regulon. These included gene gain and loss, and loss of HrpL regulation caused by group-specific cis element mutations in otherwise conserved genes. Novel non-T3E HrpL-regulated genes include an operon that we show is required for full virulence of P. syringae pv. phaseolicola 1448A on French bean. We highlight the power of integrating genomic, transcriptomic, and phylogenetic information to drive concise functional experimentation and to derive better insight into the evolution of virulence across an evolutionarily diverse pathogen species.
Author Summary
Pseudomonas syringae are environmentally ubiquitous bacteria of wide phylogenetic distribution, which can cause disease on a broad range of plant species. Pathogenicity requires the master regulator HrpL. HrpL controls the activation of virulence factor genes, including those encoding the type III secretion system which facilitates translocation of bacterial proteins into host cells. Here we overlaid transcriptome profiling of genes onto their phylogenetic distribution by characterizing the HrpL regulon across six diverse strains of P. syringae. We identified novel putative virulence factors, discovered two novel effector families, and functionally characterized an operon most likely involved in secondary metabolism that we show is required for virulence. We demonstrated that the size and composition of the HrpL regulon varies among strains, and explored how genes are recruited into, or lost from, the virulence regulon. Overall, our work widens the understanding of P. syringae pathogenicity and presents an experimental paradigm extensible to other pathogenic bacterial species.
PMCID: PMC3879358  PMID: 24391493
23.  The GacS Sensor Kinase Regulates Alginate and Poly-β-Hydroxybutyrate Production in Azotobacter vinelandii 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(9):2624-2628.
Azotobacter vinelandii produces two polymers: the extracellular polysaccharide alginate and the intracellular polyester poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB). A cosmid clone (pSMU588) from an A. vinelandii gene library diminished alginate production by A. vinelandii mucoid strain ATCC 9046. The nucleotide sequence and predicted amino acid sequence of the locus responsible for the mucoidy suppression revealed 65% identity to Pseudomonas GacS, a transmembrane sensor kinase of the two-component regulators, whose cognate response regulator, GacA, is a global activator regulating several products and virulence factors. Plasmid pMC15, harboring gacS, and a strain carrying a gacS nonpolar mutation were constructed. Either pMC15 or the gacS mutation significantly reduced alginate production and transcription of algD, the gene coding for the key enzyme GDP-mannose dehydrogenase of the alginate biosynthetic pathway. We found that the gacS mutation also reduced PHB accumulation and impaired encystment. Taken together, these data indicate that in A. vinelandii the gacSA global system regulates polymer synthesis.
PMCID: PMC111330  PMID: 10762268
24.  Characterization of the hrpC and hrpRS Operons of Pseudomonas syringae Pathovars Syringae, Tomato, and Glycinea and Analysis of the Ability of hrpF, hrpG, hrcC, hrpT, and hrpV Mutants To Elicit the Hypersensitive Response and Disease in Plants 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(17):4523-4531.
The species Pseudomonas syringae encompasses plant pathogens with differing host specificities and corresponding pathovar designations. P. syringae requires the Hrp (type III protein secretion) system, encoded by a 25-kb cluster of hrp and hrc genes, in order to elicit the hypersensitive response (HR) in nonhosts or to be pathogenic in hosts. DNA sequence analysis of the hrpC and hrpRS operons of P. syringae pv. syringae 61 (brown spot of beans), P. syringae pv. glycinea U1 (bacterial blight of soybeans), and P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000 (bacterial speck of tomatos) revealed that the 13 genes comprising the right half of the hrp cluster (including those in the previously sequenced hrpZ operon) are conserved and identically arranged. The hrpC operon is comprised of hrpF, hrpG, hrcC, hrpT, and hrpV. hrcC encodes a putative outer membrane protein that is conserved in all type III secretion systems. The other four genes appear to be characteristic of group I Hrp systems, such as those possessed by P. syringae and Erwinia amylovora. The predicted products of these four genes in P. syringae pv. syringae 61 are HrpF (8 kDa), HrpG (15.4 kDa), HrpT (7.5 kDa), and HrpV (13.4 kDa). HrpT is a putative outer membrane lipoprotein. HrpF, HrpG, and HrpV are all hydrophilic proteins lacking N-terminal signal peptides. The HrpG, HrcC, HrpT, and HrpV proteins of P. syringae pathovars syringae and tomato (the two most divergent pathovars) had at least 76% amino acid identity with each other, whereas the HrpF proteins of these two pathovars had only 36% amino acid identity. The HrpF proteins of P. syringae pathovars syringae and glycinea also showed significant similarity to the HrpA pilin protein of P. syringae pathovar tomato. Functionally nonpolar mutations were introduced into each of the genes in the hrpC operon of P. syringae pv. syringae 61 by insertion of an nptII cartridge lacking a transcription terminator. The mutants were assayed for their ability to elicit the HR in nonhost tobacco leaves or to multiply and cause disease in host bean leaves. Mutations in hrpF, hrcC, and hrpT abolished or greatly reduced the ability of P. syringae pv. syringae 61 to elicit the HR in tobacco. The hrpG mutant had only weakly reduced HR activity, and the activity of the hrpV mutant was indistinguishable from that of the wild type. Each of the mutations could be complemented, but surprisingly, the hrpV subclone caused a reduction in the HR elicitation ability of the ΔhrpV::nptII mutant. The hrpF and hrcC mutants caused no disease in beans, whereas the hrpG, hrpT, and hrpV mutants had reduced virulence. Similarly, the hrcC mutant grew little in beans, whereas the other mutants grew to intermediate levels in comparison with the wild type. These results indicate that HrpC and HrpF have essential functions in the Hrp system, that HrpG and HrpT contribute quantitatively but are not essential, and that HrpV is a candidate negative regulator of the Hrp system.
PMCID: PMC107463  PMID: 9721291
25.  A Regulatory RNA (PrrB RNA) Modulates Expression of Secondary Metabolite Genes in Pseudomonas fluorescens F113 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(14):3913-3919.
The GacS-GacA two-component signal transduction system, which is highly conserved in gram-negative bacteria, is required for the production of exoenzymes and secondary metabolites in Pseudomonas spp. Screening of a Pseudomonas fluorescens F113 gene bank led to the isolation of a previously undefined locus which could restore secondary metabolite production to both gacS and gacA mutants of F113. Sequence analysis of this locus demonstrated that it did not contain any obvious Pseudomonas protein-coding open reading frames or homologues within available databases. Northern analysis indicated that the locus encodes an RNA (PrrB RNA) which is able to phenotypically complement gacS and gacA mutants and is itself regulated by the GacS-GacA two-component signal transduction system. Primer extension analysis of the 132-base transcript identified the transcription start site located downstream of a ς70 promoter sequence from positions −10 to −35. Inactivation of the prrB gene in F113 resulted in a significant reduction of 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (Phl) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) production, while increased metabolite production was observed when prrB was overexpressed. The prrB gene sequence contains a number of imperfect repeats of the consensus sequence 5′-AGGA-3′, and sequence analysis predicted a complex secondary structure featuring multiple putative stem-loops with the consensus sequences predominantly positioned at the single-stranded regions at the ends of the stem-loops. This structure is similar to the CsrB and RsmB regulatory RNAs in Escherichia coli and Erwinia carotovora, respectively. Results suggest that a regulatory RNA molecule is involved in GacA-GacS-mediated regulation of Phl and HCN production in P. fluorescens F113.
PMCID: PMC94573  PMID: 10869066

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