The Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic human pathogen which is responsible for severe nosocomial infections in immunocompromised patients and is the major pathogen in cystic fibrosis. The bacterium utilizes two interrelated quorum-sensing (QS) systems, which rely on N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) signal molecules, to control the expression of virulence factors and biofilm development. In this study, we compared the protein patterns of the intracellular, extracellular and surface protein fractions of the PAO1 parent strain with those of an isogenic lasI rhlI double mutant by means of two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE). This analysis showed that the intensities of 23.7% of all detected protein spots differed more than 2.5-fold between the two strains. We only considered those protein spots truly QS regulated that were changed in the mutant in the absence of signal molecules but were rescued to the wild-type situation when the medium was supplemented with AHLs. These protein spots were characterized by MALDI-TOF peptide mapping. Twenty-seven proteins were identified that were previously reported to be AHL controlled, among them several well-characterized virulence factors. For one of the identified proteins, the serine protease PrpL, a biochemical assay was established to verify that expression of this factor is indeed QS regulated. Furthermore, it is shown that the quorum-sensing blocker C-30 specifically interferes with the expression of 67% of the AHL-controlled protein spots of the surface fraction, confirming the high specificity of the compound. Importantly, 20 novel QS-regulated proteins were identified, many of which are involved in iron utilization, suggesting a link between quorum sensing and the iron regulatory system. Two of these proteins, PhuR and HasAp, are components of the two distinct haem-uptake systems present in P. aeruginosa. In agreement with the finding that both proteins are positively regulated by the QS cascade, we show that the lasI rhlI double mutant grows poorly with haemoglobin as the only iron source when compared with the wild type. These results add haemoglobin utilization to the list of phenotypes controlled through QS in P. aeruginosa. The surprisingly high number of AHL-regulated proteins relative to the number of regulated genes suggests that quorum-sensing control also operates via post-transcriptional mechanisms. To strengthen this hypothesis we investigated the role of quorum sensing in the post-translational modification of HasAp, an extracellular protein required for the uptake of free and haemoglobin-bound haem.
|Publication status||Published - 2003|