First and third authors: Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720; and second author: Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona 6400 Sanger Road Orlando, FL 32827.
Xylella fastidiosa regulates traits important to both virulence of grape as well as colonization of sharpshooter vectors via its production of a fatty acid signal molecule known as DSF whose production is dependent on rpfF. Although X. fastidiosa rpfF mutants exhibit increased virulence to plants, they are unable to be spread from plant to plant by insect vectors. To gain more insight into the traits that contribute to these processes, a whole-genome Agilent DNA microarray for this species was developed and used to determine the RpfF-dependent regulon by transcriptional profiling. In total, 446 protein coding genes whose expression was significantly different between the wild type and an rpfF mutant (false discovery rate < 0.05) were identified when cells were grown in PW liquid medium. Among them, 165 genes were downregulated in the rpfF mutant compared with the wild-type strain whereas 281 genes were over-expressed. RpfF function was required for regulation of 11 regulatory and σ factors, including rpfE, yybA, PD1177, glnB, rpfG, PD0954, PD0199, PD2050, colR, rpoH, and rpoD. In general, RpfF is required for regulation of genes involved in attachment and biofilm formation, enhancing expression of hemagglutinin genes hxfA and hxfB, and suppressing most type IV pili and gum genes. A large number of other RpfF-dependent genes that might contribute to virulence or insect colonization were also identified such as those encoding hemolysin and colicin V, as well as genes with unknown functions.