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Mol Microbiol. 2005 Jul;57(2):420-33.

Dual regulation of genes involved in acetoin biosynthesis and motility/biofilm formation by the virulence activator AphA and the acetate-responsive LysR-type regulator AlsR in Vibrio cholerae.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


AphA is a quorum sensing-regulated activator that initiates the virulence cascade in Vibrio cholerae by cooperating with the LysR-type regulator AphB at the tcpPH promoter on the Vibrio pathogenicity island (VPI). To identify the ancestral chromosomal genes in V. cholerae regulated by AphA, we carried out a microarray analysis and show here that AphA influences the expression of 15 genes not associated with the VPI. One set of genes strongly repressed by AphA is involved in the biosynthesis of acetoin, a product synthesized by a variety of bacteria that plays a role in preventing intracellular acidification and which is essential for the viability of V. cholerae in the presence of glucose. Also present in this operon are two putative signal transduction proteins with EAL and GGDEF domains that oppositely influence motility and biofilm formation. Gel mobility shift assays show that AphA binds to a site upstream of the first gene in the acetoin operon. Transcriptional lacZ fusions indicate that at low cell density AphA represses the expression of the acetoin genes up to 15-fold. Voges Proskauer tests confirm that deletion of AphA increases the production of acetoin under non-inducing conditions and also that the LysR-type regulator AlsR divergently transcribed from the operon is required for its production. This is the first report of a specific repressor protein involved in the transcriptional control of acetoin production as well as the co-regulation of these genes with those that influence motility and biofilm formation. The results here provide a model for the dual regulation of these processes by acetate and quorum sensing through AlsR and AphA.

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