Bacterial pathogens utilize numerous signals to identify the presence of their host and coordinate changes in gene expression that allow for infection. Within plant pathogens, these signals typically include small molecules and/or proteins from their plant hosts and bacterial quorum sensing molecules to ensure sufficient bacterial cell density for successful infection. In addition, bacteria use environmental signals to identify conditions when the host defenses are weakened and potentially to signal entry into an appropriate host/niche for infection. A globin coupled sensor protein (GCS), termed PccGCS, within the soft rot bacterium Pectobacterium carotovorum ssp. carotovorum WPP14 has been identified as an O2 sensor and demonstrated to alter virulence factor excretion and control motility, with deletion of PccGCS resulting in decreased rotting of a potato host. Using small molecules that modulate bacterial growth and quorum sensing, PccGCS signaling also has been shown to modulate quorum sensing pathways, resulting in the PccGCS deletion strain being more sensitive to plant-derived phenolic acids, which can function as quorum sensing inhibitors, and exhibiting increased N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) production. These findings highlight a role for GCS proteins in controlling key O2-dependent phenotypes of pathogenic bacteria and suggest that modulating GCS signaling to limit P. carotovorum motility may provide a means to decrease rotting of plant hosts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine