cAMP and Vfr Control Exolysin Expression and Cytotoxicity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Taxonomic Outliers

Abstract : The two-partner secretion system ExlBA, expressed by strains of Pseu-domonas aeruginosa belonging to the PA7 group, induces hemorrhage in lungs due to disruption of host cellular membranes. Here we demonstrate that the exlBA genes are controlled by a pathway consisting of cAMP and the virulence factor regulator (Vfr). Upon interaction with cAMP, Vfr binds directly to the exlBA promoter with high affinity (equilibrium binding constant [K eq ] of 2.5 nM). The exlB and exlA expression was diminished in the Vfr-negative mutant and upregulated with increased intracel-lular cAMP levels. The Vfr binding sequence in the exlBA promoter was mutated in situ, resulting in reduced cytotoxicity of the mutant, showing that Vfr is required for the exlBA expression during intoxication of epithelial cells. Vfr also regulates function of type 4 pili previously shown to facilitate ExlA activity on epithelial cells, which indicates that the cAMP/Vfr pathway coordinates these two factors needed for full cy-totoxicity. As in most P. aeruginosa strains, the adenylate cyclase CyaB is the main provider of cAMP for Vfr regulation during both in vitro growth and eukaryotic cell infection. We discovered that the absence of functional Vfr in the reference strain PA7 is caused by a frameshift in the gene and accounts for its reduced cytotoxicity, revealing the conservation of ExlBA control by the CyaB-cAMP/Vfr pathway in P. aeruginosa taxonomic outliers. IMPORTANCE The human opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa provokes severe acute and chronic human infections associated with defined sets of vir-ulence factors. The main virulence determinant of P. aeruginosa taxonomic outliers is exolysin, a membrane-disrupting pore-forming toxin belonging to the two-partner secretion system ExlBA. In this work, we demonstrate that the conserved CyaB-cAMP/Vfr pathway controls cytotoxicity of outlier clinical strains through direct tran-scriptional activation of the exlBA operon. Therefore, despite the fact that the type III secretion system and exolysin are mutually exclusive in classical and outlier strains, respectively, these two major virulence determinants share similarities in their mechanisms of regulation.
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Submitted on : Friday, December 21, 2018 - 2:39:30 PM
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Alice Berry, Kook Han, Julian Trouillon, Mylène Robert-Genthon, Michel Ragno, et al.. cAMP and Vfr Control Exolysin Expression and Cytotoxicity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Taxonomic Outliers. Journal of Bacteriology, American Society for Microbiology, 2018, 200 (12), ⟨10.1128/jb.00135-18⟩. ⟨cea-01963657⟩

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