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Front Microbiol. 2017 Dec 22;8:2570. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02570. eCollection 2017.

Autoinducer-2 Quorum Sensing Contributes to Regulation of Microcin PDI in Escherichia coli.

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Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, United States.
Institute of Marine Biology, College of Oceanography, Hohai University, Nanjing, China.
Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States.


The Escherichia coli quorum sensing (QS) signal molecule, autoinducer-2 (AI-2), reaches its maximum concentration during mid-to-late growth phase after which it quickly degrades during stationary phase. This pattern of AI-2 concentration coincides with the up- then down-regulation of a recently described microcin PDI (mccPDI) effector protein (McpM). To determine if there is a functional relationship between these systems, a prototypical mccPDI-expressing strain of E. coli 25 was used to generate ΔluxS, ΔlsrACDBFGlsr), and ΔlsrR mutant strains that are deficient in AI-2 production, transportation, and AI-2 transport regulation, respectively. Trans-complementation, RT-qPCR, and western blot assays were used to detect changes of microcin expression and synthesis under co-culture and monoculture conditions. Compared to the wild-type strain, the AI-2-deficient strain (ΔluxS) and -uptake negative strain (Δlsr) were >1,000-fold less inhibitory to susceptible bacteria (P < 0.05). With in trans complementation of luxS, the AI-2 deficient mutant reduced the susceptible E. coli population by 4-log, which was within 1-log of the wild-type phenotype. RT-qPCR and western blot results for the AI-2 deficient E. coli 25 showed a 5-fold reduction in mcpM transcription with an average 2-h delay in McpM synthesis. Furthermore, overexpression of sRNA micC and micF (both involved in porin protein regulation) was correlated with mcpM regulation, consistent with a possible link between QS and mcpM regulation. This is the direct first evidence that microcin regulation can be linked to quorum sensing in a Gram-negative bacterium.


autoinducer-2; bacteriocin; lsr; luxS; mccPDI; microcin; quorum sensing

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