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Issue 6, 2017
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The multi-output incoherent feedforward loop constituted by the transcriptional regulators LasR and RsaL confers robustness to a subset of quorum sensing genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

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Abstract

Quorum sensing (QS) is an intercellular communication system which controls virulence-related phenotypes in the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. LasR is the QS receptor protein which responds to the signal molecule N-(3-oxododecanoyl)homoserine lactone (3OC12-HSL) and promotes signal production by increasing the transcription of the 3OC12-HSL synthase gene, lasI. LasR also activates the expression of other genes, including rsaL, coding for the RsaL protein which acts as a transcriptional repressor of lasI. Direct gene activation and RsaL-mediated gene repression, both exerted by LasR on the expression of the output gene lasI, generate a regulatory network motif known as the type 1 incoherent feedforward loop (IFFL-1) that governs 3OC12-HSL production. In addition to lasI, RsaL directly represses a set of LasR-activated genes; hence, the IFFL-1 generated by LasR and RsaL is a multi-output IFFL-1. Here we demonstrate that the multi-output IFFL-1 constituted by LasR and RsaL confers robustness with respect to fluctuations in the levels of LasR to the phenotypes controlled by both these transcriptional regulators (e.g. 3OC12-HSL synthesis and pyocyanin production). In contrast, other virulence-related phenotypes controlled by LasR but not by RsaL (e.g. elastase and protease production) are sensitive to changes in LasR levels. Overall, the multi-output IFFL-1 generated by LasR and RsaL splits the QS regulon into two distinct sub-regulons with different robustness with respect to LasR fluctuations. This emerging regulatory property enhances the phenotypic plasticity of P. aeruginosa, thus contributing to its adaptation to changing environments.

Graphical abstract: The multi-output incoherent feedforward loop constituted by the transcriptional regulators LasR and RsaL confers robustness to a subset of quorum sensing genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

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Publication details

The article was received on 13 Jan 2017, accepted on 15 Apr 2017 and first published on 20 Apr 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7MB00040E
Citation: Mol. BioSyst., 2017,13, 1080-1089
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    The multi-output incoherent feedforward loop constituted by the transcriptional regulators LasR and RsaL confers robustness to a subset of quorum sensing genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

    R. Bondí, F. Longo, M. Messina, F. D'Angelo, P. Visca, L. Leoni and G. Rampioni, Mol. BioSyst., 2017, 13, 1080
    DOI: 10.1039/C7MB00040E

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