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Mol Microbiol. 1996 Jul;21(1):97-110.

Isolation and characterization of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa gene, ptxR, which positively regulates exotoxin A production.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock 79430, USA.


Exotoxin A production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a complicated and highly regulated process that involves several genes. In this report, we describe the isolation of a new toxA regulatory gene (ptxR) which affects exotoxin A production in P. aeruginosa. In an iron-deficient medium, the presence of a plasmid carrying ptxR in P. aeruginosa PAO1 resulted in a four-to fivefold increase in exotoxin A synthesis. No effect was observed on the levels of elastase, phospholipase C, exoenzyme S, and alkaline protease. Using subcloning and complementation experiments, ptxR was localized to a 2.1 kb Kpnl-Bg/II fragment. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed the presence of an open reading frame which encodes a 34.97 kDa protein (PtxR). The size of the predicted PtxR compares closely with the 34 kDa PtxR that was synthesized in Escherichia coli using the T7 expression system. The deduced amino acid sequence of PtxR is homologous to that of several members of the LysR family of transcriptional activators. The amino-terminus region of PtxR contains a putative helix-turn-helix DNA-binding motif. Specific ptxR-deletion mutants in P. aeruginosa strains PAO1 and PA103 were constructed. In comparison with their parent strains, both mutants showed a significant reduction in the level of exotoxin A activity. However, upon extensive subculturing, the level of exotoxin A produced by the PAO1::ptxR mutant was similar to that of PAO1. Transcriptional studies, using both toxA-lacZ fusion and RNA analysis, confirmed that ptxR increases toxA and regA transcription. These results suggest that ptxR regulates (through regA) exotoxin A production at the transcriptional level.

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