Lon protease, a member of the ATP-dependent protease family, regulates numerous cellular systems by degrading specific substrates. Here, we demonstrate that Lon is involved in the regulation of quorum-sensing (QS) signaling systems in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen. The organism has two acyl-homoserine lactone (HSL)-mediated QS systems, LasR/LasI and RhlR/RhlI. Many reports have demonstrated that these two systems are regulated and interconnected by global regulators. We found that lon-disrupted cells overproduce pyocyanin, the biosynthesis of which depends on the RhlR/RhlI system, and show increased levels of a transcriptional regulator, RhlR. The QS systems are organized hierarchically: the RhlR/RhlI system is subordinate to LasR/LasI. To elucidate the mechanism by which Lon negatively regulates RhlR/RhlI, we examined the effect of lon disruption on the LasR/LasI system. We found that Lon represses the expression of LasR/LasI by degrading LasI, an HSL synthase, leading to negative regulation of the RhlR/RhlI system. RhlR/RhlI was also shown to be regulated by Lon independently of LasR/LasI via regulation of RhlI, an HSL synthase. In view of these findings, it is suggested that Lon protease is a powerful negative regulator of both HSL-mediated QS systems in P. aeruginosa.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology