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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Nov 9;101(45):15833-9. Epub 2004 Oct 25.

Promoter specificity in Pseudomonas aeruginosa quorum sensing revealed by DNA binding of purified LasR.

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


Along with their cognate acyl-homoserine lactone signals, the quorum sensing regulators LasR and RhlR control the expression of hundreds of genes in the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This extensive, overlapping regulatory network affords the opportunity to systematically investigate the sequence requirements and specificity determinants of large families of target promoters. Many of the P. aeruginosa quorum-controlled genes possess conserved palindromic promoter elements predicted to be binding sites for either one or both transcriptional regulators, but biochemical proof has not been reported. We have purified native LasR and characterized binding to various quorum-controlled promoters in vitro. Purified LasR was a dimer in solution that irreversibly bound two molecules of 3-oxo-C12-homoserine lactone. LasR bound several las-responsive promoters specifically and with high affinity, interacting cooperatively with some promoters and noncooperatively with others. LasR recognized some, but not all, of the predicted binding sites, and also bound to several unexpected sites. In contrast to predictions from genetic data, we found that the recognition sequences of las-specific promoters showed little overall sequence conservation and did not require dyad symmetry. We found distinct differences in sequence composition between las-specific noncooperative, las-specific cooperative, and rhl-responsive promoters. These results provide the basis for defining promoter specificity elements in P. aeruginosa quorum sensing. Insights into the molecular mechanism of LasR function have implications for the development of quorum-sensing targeted antivirulence compounds.

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