The locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) is a chromosomal pathogenicity island that encodes the proteins involved in the formation of the attaching and effacing lesions by enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) and enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC). The LEE comprises 41 open reading frames organized in five major operons, LEE1, LEE2, LEE3, tir (LEE5), and LEE4, which encode a type III secretion system, the intimin adhesin, the translocated intimin receptor (Tir), and other effector proteins. The first gene of LEE1 encodes the Ler regulator, which activates all the other genes within the LEE. We previously reported that the LEE genes were activated by quorum sensing through Ler (V. Sperandio, J. L. Mellies, W. Nguyen, S. Shin, and J. B. Kaper, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 96:15196-15201, 1999). In this study we report that a putative regulator in the E. coli genome is itself activated by quorum sensing. This regulator is encoded by open reading frame b3243; belongs to the LysR family of regulators; is present in EHEC, EPEC, and E. coli K-12; and shares homology with the AphB and PtxR regulators of Vibrio cholerae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, respectively. We confirmed the activation of b3243 by quorum sensing by using transcriptional fusions and renamed this regulator quorum-sensing E. coli regulator A (QseA). We observed that QseA activated transcription of ler and therefore of the other LEE genes. An EHEC qseA mutant had a striking reduction of type III secretion activity, which was complemented when qseA was provided in trans. Similar results were also observed with a qseA mutant of EPEC. The QseA regulator is part of the regulatory cascade that regulates EHEC and EPEC virulence genes by quorum sensing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases