Vibrio fischeri, the bacterial symbiont of the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, uses quorum sensing to control genes involved in bioluminescence, host colonization, and other biological processes. Previous work has shown that AinS/R-directed quorum sensing also regulates the expression of rpoQ (VF_A1015), a gene annotated as an RpoS-like sigma factor. In this study, we demonstrate using phylogenetics that RpoQ is related to, but distinct from, the stationary-phase sigma factor RpoS. Overexpression of rpoQ results in elevated chitinase activity but decreased motility and luminescence, three activities associated with symbiosis. The reduction in bacterial luminescence associated with the overexpression of rpoQ occurs both in culture and within the light-emitting organ of the squid host. This suppression of bioluminescence is due to the repression of the luxICDABEG promoter. Our results highlight RpoQ as a novel regulatory component, embedded in the quorum-signaling network that controls several biological processes in V. fischeri.
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