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J Biol Chem. 2009 Dec 11;284(50):34976-85. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.052571. Epub 2009 Oct 19.

Small RNA-dependent expression of secondary metabolism is controlled by Krebs cycle function in Pseudomonas fluorescens.

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  • 1Département de Microbiologie Fondamentale, Bâtiment Biophore, Université de Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0, an antagonist of phytopathogenic fungi in the rhizosphere of crop plants, elaborates and excretes several secondary metabolites with antibiotic properties. Their synthesis depends on three small RNAs (RsmX, RsmY, and RsmZ), whose expression is positively controlled by the GacS-GacA two-component system at high cell population densities. To find regulatory links between primary and secondary metabolism in P. fluorescens and in the related species Pseudomonas aeruginosa, we searched for null mutations that affected central carbon metabolism as well as the expression of rsmY-gfp and rsmZ-gfp reporter constructs but without slowing down the growth rate in rich media. Mutation in the pycAB genes (for pyruvate carboxylase) led to down-regulation of rsmXYZ and secondary metabolism, whereas mutation in fumA (for a fumarase isoenzyme) resulted in up-regulation of the three small RNAs and secondary metabolism in the absence of detectable nutrient limitation. These effects required the GacS sensor kinase but not the accessory sensors RetS and LadS. An analysis of intracellular metabolites in P. fluorescens revealed a strong positive correlation between small RNA expression and the pools of 2-oxoglutarate, succinate, and fumarate. We conclude that Krebs cycle intermediates (already known to control GacA-dependent virulence factors in P. aeruginosa) exert a critical trigger function in secondary metabolism via the expression of GacA-dependent small RNAs.

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