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J Bacteriol. 2002 Feb;184(4):1057-64.

Global genomic analysis of AlgU (sigma(E))-dependent promoters (sigmulon) in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and implications for inflammatory processes in cystic fibrosis.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0620, USA.


The conversion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to the mucoid phenotype coincides with the establishment of chronic respiratory infections in cystic fibrosis (CF). A major pathway of conversion to mucoidy in clinical strains of P. aeruginosa is dependent upon activation of the alternative sigma factor AlgU (P. aeruginosa sigma(E)). Here we initiated studies of AlgU-dependent global expression patterns in P. aeruginosa in order to assess whether additional genes, other than those involved in the production of the mucoid exopolysaccharide alginate, are turned on during conversion to mucoidy. Using genomic information and the consensus AlgU promoter sequence, we identified 35 potential AlgU (sigma(E)) promoter sites on the P. aeruginosa chromosome. Each candidate promoter was individually tested by reverse transcription and mRNA 5'-end mapping using RNA isolated from algU(+) and algU::Tc(r) mutant cells. A total of 10 new AlgU-dependent promoters were identified, and the corresponding mRNA start sites were mapped. Two of the 10 newly identified AlgU promoters were upstream of predicted lipoprotein genes. Since bacterial lipoproteins have been implicated as inducers of inflammatory pathways, we tested whether lipopeptides corresponding to the products of the newly identified AlgU-dependent lipoprotein genes, lptA and lptB, had proinflammatory activity. In human peripheral blood monocyte-derived macrophages the peptides caused production of interleukin-8, a proinflammatory chemokine typically present at excessively high levels in the CF lung. Our studies show how genomic information can be used to uncover on a global scale the genes controlled by a given sigma factor (collectively termed here sigmulon) using conventional molecular tools. In addition, our data suggest the existence of a previously unknown connection between conversion to mucoidy and expression of lipoproteins with potential proinflammatory activity. This link may be of significance for infections and inflammatory processes in CF.

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