Journal of bacteriology

Tropodithietic acid production in Phaeobacter gallaeciensis is regulated by N-acyl homoserine lactone-mediated quorum sensing.

PMID 21949069


The production of N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) is widely distributed within the marine Roseobacter clade, and it was proposed that AHL-mediated quorum sensing (QS) is one of the most common cell-to-cell communication mechanisms in roseobacters. The traits regulated by AHL-mediated QS are yet not known for members of the Roseobacter clade, but production of the antibiotic tropodithietic acid (TDA) was supposed to be controlled by AHL-mediated QS in Phaeobacter spp. We describe here for the first time the functional role of luxR and luxI homologous genes of an organism of the Roseobacter clade, i.e., pgaR and pgaI in Phaeobacter gallaeciensis. Our results demonstrate that the AHL synthase gene pgaI is responsible for production of N-3-hydroxydecanoylhomoserine lactone (3OHC(10)-HSL). Insertion mutants of pgaI and pgaR are both deficient in TDA biosynthesis and the formation of a yellow-brown pigment when grown in liquid marine broth medium. This indicates that in P. gallaeciensis the production of both secondary metabolites is controlled by AHL-mediated QS. Quantitative real-time PCR showed that the transcription level of tdaA, which encodes an essential transcriptional regulator for TDA biosynthesis, decreased 28- and 51-fold in pgaI and pgaR genetic backgrounds, respectively. These results suggest that both the response regulator PgaR and the 3OHC(10)-HSL produced by PgaI induce expression of tdaA, which in turn positively regulates expression of the tda genes. Moreover, we confirmed that TDA can also act as autoinducer in P. gallaeciensis, as previously described for Silicibacter sp. strain TM1040, but only in the presence of the response regulator PgaR.