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Mol Microbiol. 2015 Jul;97(1):166-78. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13018. Epub 2015 May 9.

Extracellular zinc induces phosphoethanolamine addition to Pseudomonas aeruginosa lipid A via the ColRS two-component system.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA.
Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA.
Department of Infectious Diseases, University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine, Athens, GA, USA.


Gram-negative bacteria survive harmful environmental stressors by modifying their outer membrane. Much of this protection is afforded upon remodeling of the lipid A region of the major surface molecule lipopolysaccharide (LPS). For example, the addition of cationic substituents, such as 4-amino-4-deoxy-L-arabinose (L-Ara4N) and phosphoehthanolamine (pEtN) at the lipid A phosphate groups, is often induced in response to specific environmental flux stabilizing the outer membrane. The work herein represents the first report of pEtN addition to Pseudomonas aeruginosa lipid A. We have identified the key pEtN transferase which we named EptAPa and characterized its strict activity on only one position of lipid A, contrasting from previously studied EptA enzymes. We further show that transcription of eptAP a is regulated by zinc via the ColRS two-component system instead of the PmrAB system responsible for eptA regulation in E. coli and Salmonella enterica. Further, although L-Ara4N is readily added to the same position of lipid A as pEtN under certain environmental conditions, ColR specifically induces pEtN addition to lipid A in lieu of L-Ara4N when Zn2+ is present. The unique, specific regulation of eptAP a transcription and enzymatic activity described in this work demonstrates the tight yet inducible control over LPS modification in P. aeruginosa.

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