ExpR, a LuxR homolog of Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora, activates transcription of rsmA, which specifies a global regulatory RNA-binding protein.J Bacteriol. 2005 Jul; 187(14):4792-803.JB
N-acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) is required by Erwinia carotovora subspecies for the expression of various traits, including extracellular enzyme and protein production and pathogenicity. Previous studies with E. carotovora subsp. carotovora have shown that AHL deficiency causes the production of high levels of RsmA, an RNA binding protein that functions as a global negative regulator of extracellular enzymes and proteins and secondary metabolites (Rsm, regulator of secondary metabolites). We document here that ExpR, a putative AHL receptor belonging to the LuxR family of regulators, activates RsmA production. In the absence of AHL, an ExpR(+) E. carotovora subsp. carotovora strain compared to its ExpR(-) mutant, produces higher levels of rsmA RNA and better expresses an rsmA-lacZ transcriptional fusion. Moreover, the expression of the rsmA-lacZ fusion in Escherichia coli is much higher in the presence of expR(71) (the expR gene of E. carotovora subsp. carotovora strain Ecc71) than in its absence. We also show that purified preparation of MBP-ExpR(71) binds (MBP, maltose binding protein) rsmA DNA. By contrast, MBP-ExpR(71) does not bind ahlI (gene for AHL synthase), pel-1 (gene for pectate lyase), or rsmB (gene for regulatory RNA that binds RsmA), nor does ExpR(71) activate expression of these genes. These observations strongly suggest transcriptional activation of rsmA resulting from a direct and specific interaction between ExpR(71) and the rsmA promoter. Several lines of evidence establish that N-3-oxohexanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HL), the major AHL analog produced by E. carotovora subsp. carotovora strain Ecc71, inhibits ExpR(71)-mediated activation of rsmA expression. These findings for the first time establish that the expR effect in E. carotovora subsp. carotovora is channeled via RsmA, a posttranscriptional regulator of E. carotovora subspecies, and AHL neutralizes this ExpR effect.