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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
host-microbial interactions; cytotoxicity; virulence; bacterial adhesion; lipopolysaccharide; biofilms; pyoverdine
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Because the hemolysis produced by Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria seeligeri on blood agar is frequently difficult to interpret, we developed a microplate technique for the routine determination of hemolytic activity with erythrocyte suspensions. This microtechnique is a simple and reliable test for distinguishing clearly between hemolytic and nonhemolytic strains and could be used instead of the CAMP (Christie-Atkins-Munch-Petersen) test with Staphylococcus aureus in the routine typing of Listeria strains. Furthermore, our results suggest that the quantitation of the hemolytic activity of the Listeria strains, along with the D-xylose, L-rhamnose, and alpha-methyl-D-mannoside acidification tests, allows the differentiation of L. monocytogenes, L. seeligeri, and Listeria ivanovii. We also observed that the treatment of erythrocytes with crude exosubstances of rhodococcus equi, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, and S. aureus enhanced the hemolytic activity of all Listeria strains with this characteristic.
In Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0, an antagonist of root-pathogenic fungi, the GacS/GacA two-component system tightly controls the expression of antifungal secondary metabolites and exoenzymes at a posttranscriptional level, involving the RNA-binding protein and global regulator of secondary metabolism RsmA. This protein was purified from P. fluorescens, and RNA bound to it was converted to cDNA, which served as a probe to isolate the corresponding chromosomal locus, rsmZ. This gene encoded a regulatory RNA of 127 nucleotides and a truncated form lacking 35 nucleotides at the 3" end. Expression of rsmZ depended on GacA, increased with increasing population density, and was stimulated by the addition of a solvent-extractable extracellular signal produced by strain CHA0 at the end of exponential growth. This signal appeared to be unrelated to N-acyl-homoserine lactones. A conserved upstream element in the rsmZ promoter, but not the stress sigma factor RpoS, was involved in rsmZ expression. Overexpression of rsmZ effectively suppressed the negative effect of gacS and gacA mutations on target genes, i.e., hcnA (for hydrogen cyanide synthase) and aprA (for the major exoprotease). Mutational inactivation of rsmZ resulted in reduced expression of these target genes in the presence of added signal. Overexpression of rsmA had a similar, albeit stronger negative effect. These results support a model in which GacA upregulates the expression of regulatory RNAs, such as RsmZ of strain CHA0, in response to a bacterial signal. By a titration effect, RsmZ may then alleviate the repressing activity of RsmA on the expression of target mRNAs.
Secondary metabolism in fluorescent pseudomonads is globally regulated by gacS, which encodes a membrane-bound sensor kinase, and gacA, which encodes a transcriptional response regulator. Spontaneous mutation in either gene blocked biosynthesis of the antimicrobial compounds hydrogen cyanide, 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol, pyoluteorin, and pyrrolnitrin by the model biocontrol strain Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0. Spontaneous mutants also had altered abilities to utilize several carbon sources and to increase medium pH compared with the wild type, suggesting that gacS and gacA influence primary as well as secondary bacterial metabolism. Inoculant efficacy for biocontrol was significantly reduced by contamination with regulatory mutants which accumulated during inoculum production. Spontaneous mutants accumulated in all 192 separate liquid cultures examined, typically at a frequency of 1% or higher after 12 days. During scale-up in a simulated industrial fermentation process, mutants increased exponentially and accounted for 7, 23, and 61% of the total viable cells after transfer to 20-, 100-, and 500-ml preparations, respectively. GacS− and GacA− mutants had identical phenotypes and occurred at the same frequency, indicating that the selective pressures for the two mutants were similar. We developed a simple screening method for monitoring inoculant quality based on the distinctive appearance of mutant colonies (i.e., orange color, enlarged diameter, hyperfluorescence). Mutant competitiveness was favored in a nutrient-rich medium with a high electrolyte concentration (nutrient broth containing yeast extract). We were able to control mutant accumulation and to clean up contaminated cultures by using certain mineral amendments (i.e., zinc, copper, cobalt, manganese, and ammonium molybdate) or by diluting media 1/10. Spontaneous mutants and genetic constructs had the same response to culture conditions. Zinc and medium dilution were also effective for improving the genetic stability of other P. fluorescens biocontrol strains obtained from Ghana and Italy.
In the plant-beneficial soil bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0, the production of biocontrol factors (antifungal secondary metabolites and exoenzymes) is controlled at a posttranscriptional level by the GacS/GacA signal transduction pathway involving RNA-binding protein RsmA as a key regulatory element. This protein is assumed to bind to the ribosome-binding site of target mRNAs and to block their translation. RsmA-mediated repression is relieved at the end of exponential growth by two GacS/GacA-controlled regulatory RNAs RsmY and RsmZ, which bind and sequester the RsmA protein. A gene (rsmE) encoding a 64-amino-acid RsmA homolog was identified and characterized in strain CHA0. Overexpression of rsmE strongly reduced the expression of target genes (hcnA, for a hydrogen cyanide synthase subunit; aprA, for the main exoprotease; and phlA, for a component of 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol biosynthesis). Single null mutations in either rsmA or rsmE resulted in a slight increase in the expression of hcnA, aprA, and phlA. By contrast, an rsmA rsmE double mutation led to strongly increased and advanced expression of these target genes and completely suppressed a gacS mutation. Both the RsmE and RsmA levels increased with increasing cell population densities in strain CHA0; however, the amount of RsmA showed less variability during growth. Expression of rsmE was controlled positively by GacA and negatively by RsmA and RsmE. Mobility shift assays demonstrated specific binding of RsmE to RsmY and RsmZ RNAs. The transcription and stability of both regulatory RNAs were strongly reduced in the rsmA rsmE double mutant. In conclusion, RsmA and RsmE together account for maximal repression in the GacS/GacA cascade of strain CHA0.
Signal extracts prepared from culture supernatants of Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO stimulated GacA-dependent expression of small RNAs and hence of antibiotic compounds in both hosts. Pseudomonas corrugata LMG2172 and P. fluorescens SBW25 also produced signal molecules stimulating GacA-controlled antibiotic synthesis in strain CHA0, illustrating a novel, N-acyl-homoserine lactone-independent type of interspecies communication.
Small RNAs (sRNAs) are widespread among bacteria and have diverse regulatory roles. Most of these sRNAs have been discovered by a combination of computational and experimental methods. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a ubiquitous Gram-negative bacterium and opportunistic human pathogen, the GacS/GacA two-component system positively controls the transcription of two sRNAs (RsmY, RsmZ), which are crucial for the expression of genes involved in virulence. In the biocontrol bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0, three GacA-controlled sRNAs (RsmX, RsmY, RsmZ) regulate the response to oxidative stress and the expression of extracellular products including biocontrol factors. RsmX, RsmY and RsmZ contain multiple unpaired GGA motifs and control the expression of target mRNAs at the translational level, by sequestration of translational repressor proteins of the RsmA family.
A combined computational and experimental approach enabled us to identify 14 intergenic regions encoding sRNAs in P. aeruginosa. Eight of these regions encode newly identified sRNAs. The intergenic region 1698 was found to specify a novel GacA-controlled sRNA termed RgsA. GacA regulation appeared to be indirect. In P. fluorescens CHA0, an RgsA homolog was also expressed under positive GacA control. This 120-nt sRNA contained a single GGA motif and, unlike RsmX, RsmY and RsmZ, was unable to derepress translation of the hcnA gene (involved in the biosynthesis of the biocontrol factor hydrogen cyanide), but contributed to the bacterium's resistance to hydrogen peroxide. In both P. aeruginosa and P. fluorescens the stress sigma factor RpoS was essential for RgsA expression.
The discovery of an additional sRNA expressed under GacA control in two Pseudomonas species highlights the complexity of this global regulatory system and suggests that the mode of action of GacA control may be more elaborate than previously suspected. Our results also confirm that several GGA motifs are required in an sRNA for sequestration of the RsmA protein.