Journal of bacteriology

Links between Anr and Quorum Sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms.

PMID 26078448


In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the transcription factor Anr controls the cellular response to low oxygen or anoxia. Anr activity is high in oxygen-limited environments, including biofilms and populations associated with chronic infections, and Anr is necessary for persistence in a model of pulmonary infection. In this study, we characterized the Anr regulon in biofilm-grown cells at 1% oxygen in the laboratory strain PAO1 and in a quorum sensing (QS)-deficient clinical isolate, J215. As expected, transcripts related to denitrification, arginine fermentation, high-affinity cytochrome oxidases, and CupA fimbriae were lower in the Δanr derivatives. In addition, we observed that transcripts associated with quorum sensing regulation, iron acquisition and storage, type VI secretion, and the catabolism of aromatic compounds were also differentially expressed in the Δanr strains. Prior reports have shown that quorum sensing-defective mutants have higher levels of denitrification, and we found that multiple Anr-regulated processes, including denitrification, were strongly inversely proportional to quorum sensing in both transcriptional and protein-based assays. We also found that in LasR-defective strains but not their LasR-intact counterparts, Anr regulated the production of the 4-hydroxy-2-alkylquinolines, which play roles in quorum sensing and interspecies interactions. These data show that Anr was required for the expression of important metabolic pathways in low-oxygen biofilms, and they reveal an expanded and compensatory role for Anr in the regulation of virulence-related genes in quorum sensing mutants, such as those commonly isolated from infections. Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes acute ocular, soft tissue, and pulmonary infections, as well as chronic infections in the airways of cystic fibrosis patients. P. aeruginosa uses quorum sensing (QS) to regulate virulence, but mutations in the gene encoding the master regulator of QS, lasR, are frequently observed in clinical isolates. We demonstrated that the regulon attributed to Anr, an oxygen-sensitive transcription factor, was more highly expressed in lasR mutants. Furthermore, we show that Anr regulates the production of several different secreted factors in lasR mutants. These data demonstrate the importance of Anr in naturally occurring quorum sensing mutants in the context of chronic infections.