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The Pseudomonas chlororaphis PCL1391 Sigma Regulator psrA Represses the Production of the Antifungal Metabolite Phenazine-1-Carboxamide

March 2005 , Volume 18 , Number  3
Pages  244 - 253

Thomas F. C. Chin-A-Woeng , Daan van den Broek , Ben J. J. Lugtenberg , and Guido V. Bloemberg

Leiden University, Institute of Biology, Clusius Laboratory, Wassenaarseweg 64, 2333 AL Leiden, The Netherlands

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Accepted 29 October 2004.

The rhizobacterium Pseudomonas chlororaphis PCL1391 produces the antifungal metabolite phenazine-1-carboxamide (PCN), which is a crucial trait in its competition with the phytopathogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici in the rhizosphere. The expression of the PCN biosynthetic gene cluster in PCL1391 is population density-dependent and is regulated by the quorum-sensing genes phzI and phzR via synthesis of the autoinducer Nhexanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (C6-HSL). Here, we describe the identification of an additional regulatory gene of PCN biosynthesis in PCL1391. A mutation in the psrA gene (Pseudomonas sigma regulator), the gene product of which is a member of the TetR/AcrR family of transcriptional regulators, resulted in increased production of autoinducer molecules and PCN. Expression studies showed that inactivation of psrA resulted in increased expression of the phzI and phzR genes and the phz biosynthetic operon and that introduction of functional copies of psrA represses the expression of these genes, resulting in reduced production of autoinducer signal and PCN. Surprisingly, inactivation of psrA in the phzI or phzR quorum-sensing mutants, which do not produce detectable amounts of PCN and autoinducers by themselves, restored PCN biosynthesis. This phenomenon was accompanied by the appearance of compounds with autoinducer activities migrating at the positions of C4-HSL and C6-HSL on C18 reverse phase-thin-layer chromatography. These observations indicate that PsrA also represses at least one silent, yet unidentified, quorum-sensing system or autoinducer biosynthetic pathway in PCL1391. The expression of psrA declines at the onset of the stationary phase at the same moment at which quorum-sensing (-regulated) genes are activated. In addition, expression studies in a psrA- and a multicopy psrA background showed that psrA is autoregulated. Multiple copies of psrA repress its own expression. Mutation of gacS, encoding the sensor kinase member of a two-component global regulatory system significantly reduced production of autoinducers and PCN. We show a novel link between global regulation and quorum sensing via the PsrA regulator.

Additional keywords: biocontrol , tomato foot and root rot .

© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society