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The Pseudomonas aeruginosa Exotoxin A Regulatory Gene, ptxS: Evidence for Negative Autoregulation

  • Britta L. Swanson
  • Jane A. Colmer
  • Abdul N. Hamood
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Aug 01, 1999
  • Biology


We have previously described a Pseudomonas aeruginosa gene, ptxR, which enhances exotoxin A production at the transcriptional level. We have also described another gene, ptxS, which is transcribed divergently from ptxR and interferes with the enhancement of exotoxin A synthesis by ptxR. However, the mechanisms through which ptxR and/or ptxS are regulated is not known. In this study, we attempted (by using the DNA gel shift assay) to determine if P. aeruginosa contains a potential regulatory protein that binds specifically to the ptxR or ptxS upstream region. In the initial analysis, different-sized gel shift bands were detected when a probe containing the ptxR-ptxS intergenic region was incubated with the lysate of P. aeruginosa PAO1. The strongest binding activity was detected with a smaller fragment that represents the ptxS upstream region. Additional deletion analysis localized the binding to a 52-bp fragment immediately upstream of ptxS. The gel shift band was not detected when the 52-bp fragment was incubated with the lysate of the ptxS isogenic mutant PAO1::ptxS. However, the binding band was regenerated when a plasmid carrying ptxS intact was introduced into PAO1::ptxS. In addition, the gel shift band was detected when the 52-bp fragment was incubated with a lysate of Escherichia coli in which ptxS was overexpressed from the T7 promoter. The effect of PtxS on ptxS expression was examined by using a ptxS-lacZ fusion plasmid. The level of β-galactosidase activity produced by PAO1::ptxS carrying the fusion plasmid was four- to fivefold higher than that produced by PAO1 carrying the same plasmid. Using DNase I footprinting analysis, the binding region was specified to a 20-bp fragment. Within the fragment, a 14-bp palindromic sequence exists that may function as a PtxS binding site. These results suggest that PtxS autoregulates its synthesis by binding to a specific sequence within the ptxS upstream region.

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