The luminescence (lux) operon (luxICDABEG) of the symbiotic bacterium Vibrio fischeri is regulated by the transcriptional activator LuxR and two acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) autoinducers (the luxI-dependent 3-oxo-hexanoyl-HSL [3-oxo-C6-HSL] and the ainS-dependent octanoyl-HSL [C8-HSL]) in a population density-responsive manner called quorum sensing. To identify quorum-sensing-regulated (QSR) proteins different from those encoded by lux genes, we examined the protein patterns of V. fischeri quorum-sensing mutants defective in luxI, ainS, and luxR by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Five non-Lux QSR proteins, QsrP, RibB, AcfA, QsrV, and QSR 7, were identified; their production occurred preferentially at high population density, required both LuxR and 3-oxo-C6-HSL, and was inhibited by C8-HSL at low population density. The genes encoding two of the QSR proteins were characterized: qsrP directs cells to synthesize an apparently novel periplasmic protein, and ribB is a homolog of the Escherichia coli gene for 3,4-dihydroxy-2-butanone 4-phosphate synthase, a key enzyme for riboflavin synthesis. The qsrP and ribB promoter regions each contained a sequence similar to the lux operon lux box, a 20-bp region of dyad symmetry necessary for LuxR/3-oxo-C6-HSL-dependent activation of lux operon transcription. V. fischeri qsrP and ribB mutants exhibited no distinct phenotype in culture. However, a qsrP mutant, in competition with its parent strain, was less successful in colonizing Euprymna scolopes, the symbiotic host of V. fischeri. The newly identified QSR genes, together with the lux operon, define a LuxR/acyl-HSL-responsive quorum-sensing regulon in V. fischeri
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