Institute of Plant Biology, University of Zurich, Zollikerstrasse 107, CH-8008 Zurich, Switzerland
Many strains of the phytopathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae synthesize the virulence factor syringolin A, which irreversibly inactivates the eukaryotic proteasome. Syringolin A, a peptide derivative, is synthesized by a mixed nonribosomal peptide/polyketide synthetase encoded by five clustered genes, sylA to sylE. Biosynthesis of syringolin A, previously shown to be dependent on the GacS/GacA two-component system, occurs in planta and in vitro but only under still culture conditions in a defined medium. Here, we show that the sylC, sylD, and sylE genes of P. syringae pv. syringae B301D-R form an operon transcribed by promoter sequences located between the sylCDE operon and the sylB gene residing on opposite strands. Assays of overlapping sylB and sylCDE promoter deletions translationally fused to the lacZ gene defined promoter sequences required for gene activity both in vitro and in planta. Activation of both promoters depended on the sylA gene encoding a helix-turn-helix (HTH) LuxR-type transcription factor which was shown to directly bind to the promoters. Activity of the sylA gene, in turn, required a functional salA gene, which also encodes an HTH LuxR-type transcription factor. Furthermore, evidence is presented that acyl-homoserine lactone-mediated quorum-sensing regulation is not involved in syringolin A biosynthesis but that oxygen concentration appears to play a role.