Characterization of regulatory pathways in Xylella fastidiosa: genes and phenotypes controlled by algU.

Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.68). 12/2007; 73(21):6748-56. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01232-07
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Many virulence genes in plant bacterial pathogens are coordinately regulated by "global" regulatory genes. Conducting DNA microarray analysis of bacterial mutants of such genes, compared with the wild type, can help to refine the list of genes that may contribute to virulence in bacterial pathogens. The regulatory gene algU, with roles in stress response and regulation of the biosynthesis of the exopolysaccharide alginate in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and many other bacteria, has been extensively studied. The role of algU in Xylella fastidiosa, the cause of Pierce's disease of grapevines, was analyzed by mutation and whole-genome microarray analysis to define its involvement in aggregation, biofilm formation, and virulence. In this study, an algU::nptII mutant had reduced cell-cell aggregation, attachment, and biofilm formation and lower virulence in grapevines. Microarray analysis showed that 42 genes had significantly lower expression in the algU::nptII mutant than in the wild type. Among these are several genes that could contribute to cell aggregation and biofilm formation, as well as other physiological processes such as virulence, competition, and survival.

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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Xylella fastidiosa regulates traits important to both virulence of grape as well as colonization of sharpshooter vectors via its production of a fatty acid signal molecule known as DSF whose production is dependent on rpfF. Although X. fastidiosa rpfF mutants exhibit increased virulence to plants, they are unable to be spread from plant to plant by insect vectors. To gain more insight into the traits that contribute to these processes, a whole-genome Agilent DNA microarray for this species was developed and used to determine the RpfF-dependent regulon by transcriptional profiling. In total, 446 protein coding genes whose expression was significantly different between the wild type and an rpfF mutant (false discovery rate < 0.05) were identified when cells were grown in PW liquid medium. Among them, 165 genes were downregulated in the rpfF mutant compared with the wild-type strain whereas 281 genes were over-expressed. RpfF function was required for regulation of 11 regulatory and σ factors, including rpfE, yybA, PD1177, glnB, rpfG, PD0954, PD0199, PD2050, colR, rpoH, and rpoD. In general, RpfF is required for regulation of genes involved in attachment and biofilm formation, enhancing expression of hemagglutinin genes hxfA and hxfB, and suppressing most type IV pili and gum genes. A large number of other RpfF-dependent genes that might contribute to virulence or insect colonization were also identified such as those encoding hemolysin and colicin V, as well as genes with unknown functions.
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    ABSTRACT: Xylella fastidiosa is an important phytopathogenic bacterium that causes many serious plant diseases, including Pierce's disease of grapevines. Disease manifestation by X. fastidiosa is associated with the expression of several factors, including the type IV pili that are required for twitching motility. We provide evidence that an operon, named Pil-Chp, with genes homologous to those found in chemotaxis systems, regulates twitching motility. Transposon insertion into the pilL gene of the operon resulted in loss of twitching motility (pilL is homologous to cheA genes encoding kinases). The X. fastidiosa mutant maintained the type IV pili, indicating that the disrupted pilL or downstream operon genes are involved in pili function, and not biogenesis. The mutated X. fastidiosa produced less biofilm than wild-type cells, indicating that the operon contributes to biofilm formation. Finally, in planta the mutant produced delayed and less severe disease, indicating that the Pil-Chp operon contributes to the virulence of X. fastidiosa, presumably through its role in twitching motility.
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    ABSTRACT: Type IV pili (T4P) are hair-like appendages found on the surface of a wide range of bacteria belonging to the β-, γ-, and δ-Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria and Firmicutes. They constitute an efficient device for a particular type of bacterial surface motility, named twitching, and are involved in several other bacterial activities and functions, including surface adherence, colonization, biofilm formation, genetic material uptake and virulence. Tens of genes are involved in T4P synthesis and regulation, with the majority of them being generally named pil/fim genes. Despite the multiple functionality of T4P and their well-established role in pathogenicity of animal pathogenic bacteria, relatively little attention has been given to the role of T4P in plant pathogenic bacteria. Only in recent years studies have begun to examine with more attention the relevance of these surface appendages for virulence of plant bacterial pathogens. The aim of this review is to summarize the current knowledge about T4P genetic machinery and its role in the interactions between phytopathogenic bacteria and their plant hosts.
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