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J Bacteriol. 2001 Apr;183(7):2212-8.

Regulation of ornibactin biosynthesis and N-acyl-L-homoserine lactone production by CepR in Burkholderia cepacia.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary Health Sciences Center, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1.


The CepR-CepI quorum-sensing system has been shown to regulate production of the siderophore ornibactin, extracellular proteases, and N-octanoyl-homoserine-L-lactone (OHL) in Burkholderia cepacia strain K56-2. To examine the effect of cepIR on production of other siderophores, cepR mutants were constructed in strains that produce pyochelin in addition to salicylic acid and ornibactins. Pc715j-R1 (cepR::tp) hyperproduced ornibactin but produced parental levels of pyochelin and salicylic acid, suggesting that CepR is a negative regulator of ornibactin synthesis but not pyochelin or salicylic acid. Pc715j-R1 was also protease deficient and OHL negative. The effects of cepR on ornibactin biosynthetic genes were examined by constructing cepR pvdA-lacZ and cepR pvdD-lacZ mutants and monitoring beta-galactosidase activity. There was an increase in expression of pvdA in the cepR mutant compared to the level in its parent strain in both low- and high-iron media during stationary phase. When the outer membrane protein profiles of a cepR mutant and the wild-type strain were compared on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, there did not appear to be any difference in levels of expression of the ornibactin receptor. Experiments with cepI-lacZ and cepR-lacZ transcriptional fusions indicated that cepI was not expressed in the cepR mutant and that cepR acts as a negative regulator of its own expression. By a thin-layer chromatography assay for N-acyl homoserine lactones, OHL and N-hexanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (HHL) were detectable in K56-2 and Pc715j, both wild-type strains. OHL was not detectable and HHL was only weakly detectable in the cepI and cepR mutants. These results suggest that CepR is both a positive and negative transcriptional regulator and that CepR may influence the expression of ornibactin biosynthetic genes in addition to the expression of the cepIR quorum-sensing system.

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