Inactivation of the quorum-sensing transcriptional regulators LasR or RhlR does not suppress the expression of virulence factors and the virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1.Microbiology (Reading). 2019 04; 165(4):425-432.M
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an environmental bacterium but is also an opportunistic pathogen. The aim of this work is to evaluate the contribution of P. aeruginosa LasR and RhlR transcriptional regulators of the quorum-sensing response (QSR) to the production of virulence factors, and to its virulence in a mouse abscess model. The QSR is a complex regulatory network that modulates the expression of several virulence factors, including elastase, pyocyanin and rhamnolipids. LasR, when complexed with the auto-inducer 3-oxo-dodecanoyl lactone (3O-C12-HSL), produced by LasI, is at the top of the QSR regulatory cascade since it activates transcription of some genes encoding virulence factors (such as the gene coding for elastase, lasB) and also transcription of both rhlR and rhlI, encoding the synthase of the auto-inducer butanoyl-homoserine lactone (C4-HSL). In turn RhlR, coupled with C4-HSL, activates the transcription of genes encoding for the enzymes involved in pyocyanin and rhamnolipid production. Several efforts have been made to obtain inhibitors of LasR activity that would suppress the QSR. However, these attempts have used chemical compounds that might not be specific for LasR inactivation. In this work we show that individual inactivation of either lasR or rhlR did not block the QSR, nor did it impair P. aeruginosa virulence, and that even a lasR rhlR double mutant still presented residual virulence, even lacking the production of virulence factors. These results show that the inhibition of either lasR or rhlR is not a straightforward approach to blocking P. aeruginosa virulence, due to the great complexity of the QSR.