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Cell Res. 2009 Nov;19(11):1258-68. doi: 10.1038/cr.2009.91. Epub 2009 Jul 28.

LsrR-binding site recognition and regulatory characteristics in Escherichia coli AI-2 quorum sensing.

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Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale and School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230027, China.


In quorum sensing (QS) process, bacteria regulate gene expression by utilizing small signaling molecules called autoinducers in response to a variety of environmental cues. Autoinducer 2 (AI-2), a QS signaling molecule proposed to be involved in interspecies communication, is produced by many species of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. In Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium, the extracellular AI-2 is imported into the cell by a transporter encoded by the lsr operon. Upstream of the lsr operon, there is a divergently transcribed gene encoding LsrR, which was reported previously to repress the transcription of the lsr operon and itself. Here, we have demonstrated for the first time that LsrR represses the transcription of the lsr operon and itself by directly binding to their promoters using gel shift and DNase I footprinting assays. The beta-galactosidase reporter assays further suggest that two motifs in both the lsrR and lsrA promoter regions are crucial for the LsrR binding. Furthermore, in agreement with the conclusion that phosphorylated AI-2 can relieve the repression of LsrR in previous studies, our data show that phospho-AI-2 renders LsrR unable to bind to its own promoter in vitro.

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