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Mol Microbiol. 2002 Oct;46(1):101-11.

MetR and CRP bind to the Vibrio harveyi lux promoters and regulate luminescence.

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Department of Biochemistry, Room 813, McIntyre Medical Sciences Building, McGill University, 3655 Promenade Sir William Osler, Montréal, Quebec, H3G 1Y6, Canada.


The induction of luminescence in Vibrio harveyi at the later stages of growth is controlled by a quorum-sensing mechanism in addition to nutritional signals. However, the mechanism of transmission of these signals directly to the lux promoters is unknown and only one regulatory protein, LuxR, has been shown to bind directly to lux promoter DNA. In this report, we have cloned and sequenced two genes, crp and metR, coding for the nutritional regulators, CRP (cAMP receptor protein) and MetR (a LysR homologue), involved in catabolite repression and methionine biosynthesis respectively. The metR gene was cloned based on a general strategy to detect lux DNA-binding proteins expressed from a genomic library, whereas the crp gene was cloned based on its complementation of an Escherichia coli crp mutant. Both CRP and MetR were shown to bind to lux promoter DNA, with CRP being dependent on the presence of cAMP. Expression studies indicated that the two regulators had opposite effects on luminescence: CRP was an activator and MetR a repressor. Disruption of crp decreased luminescence by about 1,000-fold showing that CRP is a major activator of luminescence the same as LuxR, whereas disruption of MetR resulted in activation of luminescence over 10-fold, confirming its function as a repressor. Comparison of the levels of the autoinducers involved in quorum sensing excreted by V. harveyi, and the crp and metR mutants, showed that autoinducer production was not significantly different, thus indicating that the nutritional signals do not affect luminescence by changing the levels of the signals required for quorum sensing. Indeed, the large effects of these nutritional sensors show that luminescence is controlled by multiple signals related to the environment and the cell density which must be integrated at the molecular level to control expression at the lux promoters.

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