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Mol Microbiol. 2004 Feb;51(4):973-85.

The Pseudomonas aeruginosa RpoS regulon and its relationship to quorum sensing.

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Department of Microbiology, W.M. Keck Microbial Communities and Cell Signaling Program, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


In Escherichia coli and some other gamma-Proteobacteria, the alternative sigma factor RpoS functions as a regulator of the general stress response. The role of RpoS in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is not clear. Although P. aeruginosa RpoS contributes to the resistance to several environmental stresses, its role appears to be less pivotal than in E. coli. In P. aeruginosa, RpoS also regulates the production of several virulence factors and influences the expression of individual genes that are controlled by quorum sensing. Some quorum-controlled genes are induced by RpoS, whereas others are repressed. To gain insights about RpoS function in P. aeruginosa and to understand better the regulation of quorum-controlled genes, we used transcript profiling to define an RpoS regulon. We identified 772 genes regulated by RpoS in stationary but not in logarithmic growth phase (504 were induced and 268 were repressed), and we identified putative RpoS promoter sequence elements with similarity to the E. coli RpoS consensus in several of these genes. Many genes in the regulon, for example a set of chemotaxis genes, have assigned functions that are distinct from those in E. coli and are not obviously related to a stress response. Furthermore, RpoS affects the expression of more than 40% of all quorum-controlled genes identified in our previous transcriptome analysis. This highlights the significance of RpoS as a global factor that controls quorum-sensing gene expression at the onset of stationary phase. The transcription profiling results have allowed us to build a model that accommodates previous seemingly conflicting reports.

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