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      Quorum sensing Escherichia coli regulators B and C (QseBC): a novel two-component regulatory system involved in the regulation of flagella and motility by quorum sensing in E. coli.

      Molecular Microbiology

      DNA-Binding Proteins, genetics, metabolism, Escherichia coli, physiology, Escherichia coli Proteins, Flagella, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutation, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Regulon, Trans-Activators, Transcription, Genetic

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          Abstract

          Quorum sensing is a cell-to-cell signalling mechanism in which bacteria secrete hormone-like compounds called autoinducers. When these auto-inducers reach a certain threshold concentration, they interact with bacterial transcriptional regulators, thereby regulating gene expression. Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 as well as E. coli K-12 produces the autoinducer-2 (AI-2), which is synthesized by the product of the luxS gene, and previous work from our laboratory has shown that genes encoding the EHEC type III secretion system were activated by quorum sensing. Recently, by hybridizing an E. coli K-12 gene array with cDNA synthesized from RNA extracted from EHEC strain 86-24 and its isogenic luxS mutant, we observed that other potential virulence-associated factors, such as genes encoding the expression and assembly of flagella, motility and chemotaxis, were also activated by quorum sensing. The array data also indicated that several genes encoding putative E. coli regulators were controlled by quorum sensing. In this report, we describe a two-component system regulated by quorum sensing that shares homology with Salmonella typhimurium PmrAB, which we have named quorum sensing E. coli regulator B and C (QseBC). The qseBC genes, previously identified only as open reading frames b3025 and b3026, are organized in an operon in the E. coli chromosome, with qseB encoding the response regulator and qseC the sensor kinase. We confirmed the regulation of qseBC by quorum sensing using qseB::lacZ transcriptional fusions and characterized the phenotypes of an isogenic qseC mutation in EHEC. This mutant expressed less flagellin and had reduced motility compared with the wild-type and complemented strains. Transcription of flhD, fliA, motA and fliC::lacZ fusions was decreased in the qseC mutant, suggesting that qseBC is a transcriptional regulator of flagella genes. A qseC mutant was also generated in E. coli K-12 strain MC1000 that showed the same phenotypes as the EHEC mutant, indicating that qseBC regulates flagella and motility by quorum sensing in both EHEC and K-12. QseBC activates transcription of flhDC, which is the master regulator for the flagella and motility genes and, in the absence of flhD, QseBC failed to activate the transcription of fliA. Motility of a luxS, but not of a qseC, mutant can be restored by providing AI-2 exogenously as preconditioned media, suggesting that the qseC mutant is unable to respond to AI-2. However, QseC has no effect on the expression of other quorum sensing-controlled genes such as those encoding for the type III secretion system. These data indicate that QseBC is one component of the quorum-sensing regulatory cascade in both EHEC and K-12 that is involved in the regulation of flagella and motility genes, but that additional regulators in this cascade remain to be characterized.

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          Most cited references 37

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          A genetic locus of enterocyte effacement conserved among diverse enterobacterial pathogens.

          Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 are intestinal pathogens that profoundly damage the microvilli and subapical cytoskeleton of epithelial cells. Here we report finding in EPEC a 35-kbp locus containing several regions implicated in formation of these lesions. DNA probes throughout this locus hybridize to E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogens of three genera that cause similar lesions but do not hybridize to avirulent members of the same species. The EPEC locus and a different virulence locus of uropathogenic E. coli insert into the E. coli chromosome at the identical site and share highly similar sequences near the point of insertion.
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            Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) transfers its receptor for intimate adherence into mammalian cells.

            Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) belongs to a group of bacterial pathogens that induce epithelial cell actin rearrangements resulting in pedestal formation beneath adherent bacteria. This requires the secretion of specific virulence proteins needed for signal transduction and intimate adherence. EPEC interaction induces tyrosine phosphorylation of a protein in the host membrane, Hp90, which is the receptor for the EPEC outer membrane protein, intimin. Hp90-intimin interaction is essential for intimate attachment and pedestal formation. Here, we demonstrate that Hp90 is actually a bacterial protein (Tir). Thus, this bacterial pathogen inserts its own receptor into mammalian cell surfaces, to which it then adheres to trigger additional host signaling events and actin nucleation. It is also tyrosine-phosphorylated upon transfer into the host cell.
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              The LuxS family of bacterial autoinducers: biosynthesis of a novel quorum-sensing signal molecule.

              Many bacteria control gene expression in response to cell population density, and this phenomenon is called quorum sensing. In Gram-negative bacteria, quorum sensing typically involves the production, release and detection of acylated homoserine lactone signalling molecules called autoinducers. Vibrio harveyi, a Gram-negative bioluminescent marine bacterium, regulates light production in response to two distinct autoinducers (AI-1 and AI-2). AI-1 is a homoserine lactone. The structure of AI-2 is not known. We have suggested previously that V. harveyi uses AI-1 for intraspecies communication and AI-2 for interspecies communication. Consistent with this idea, we have shown that many species of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria produce AI-2 and, in every case, production of AI-2 is dependent on the function encoded by the luxS gene. We show here that LuxS is the AI-2 synthase and that AI-2 is produced from S-adenosylmethionine in three enzymatic steps. The substrate for LuxS is S-ribosylhomocysteine, which is cleaved to form two products, one of which is homocysteine, and the other is AI-2. In this report, we also provide evidence that the biosynthetic pathway and biochemical intermediates in AI-2 biosynthesis are identical in Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, V. harveyi, Vibrio cholerae and Enterococcus faecalis. This result suggests that, unlike quorum sensing via the family of related homoserine lactone autoinducers, AI-2 is a unique, 'universal' signal that could be used by a variety of bacteria for communication among and between species.
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