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Emergence of Secretion-Defective Sublines of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 Resulting from Spontaneous Mutations in the vfr Global Regulatory Gene▿

By Áine Fox, Dieter Haas, Cornelia Reimmann, Stephan Heeb, Alain Filloux and Romé Voulhoux


Pseudomonas aeruginosa undergoes spontaneous mutation that impairs secretion of several extracellular enzymes during extended cultivation in vitro in rich media, as well as during long-term colonization of the cystic fibrosis lung. A frequent type of strong secretion deficiency is caused by inactivation of the quorum-sensing regulatory gene lasR. Here we analyzed a spontaneously emerging subline of strain PAO1 that exhibited moderate secretion deficiency and partial loss of quorum-sensing control. Using generalized transduction, we mapped the secretion defect to the vfr gene, which is known to control positively the expression of the lasR gene and type II secretion of several proteases. We confirmed this secretion defect by sequencing and complementation of the vfr mutation. In a reconstruction experiment conducted with a 1:1 mixture of wild-type strain PAO1 and a vfr mutant of PAO1, we observed that the vfr mutant had a selective advantage over the wild type after growth in static culture for 4 days. Under these conditions, spontaneous vfr emerged in a strain PAO1 population after four growth cycles, and these mutants accounted for more than 40% of the population after seven cycles. These results suggest that partial or complete loss of quorum sensing and secretion can be beneficial to P. aeruginosa under certain environmental conditions

Topics: Genetics and Molecular Biology
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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