Title page for ETD etd-07282008-122002

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Qin, Nan
Author's Email Address nqin@vt.edu
URN etd-07282008-122002
Title Analysis of the Regulons Controlled by Transcriptional Regulators LuxR and LitR in Vibrio fischeri
Degree PhD
Department Biology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stevens, Ann M. Committee Chair
Larson, Timothy J. Committee Member
Popham, David L. Committee Member
Walker, Richard A. Committee Member
Yang, Zhaomin Committee Member
  • LuxR
  • transcriptional regulation
  • regulon
  • LitR
  • quorum sensing
  • luminescence
  • Vibrio fischeri
Date of Defense 2008-07-22
Availability unrestricted
Quorum sensing is a bacterial signaling system that controls gene expression in a population density-dependent manner. In Gram-negative proteobacteria, the cell density control of luminescence was first observed in the symbiotic marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri and this system is one of the best studied quorum sensing systems. Two-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide (2D-SDS) gel electrophoresis analysis previously identified several non-Lux proteins in V. fischeri MJ-100 whose expression was dependent on LuxR and 3-oxo-hexanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL). A lacZ reporter was used to show that the promoters for qsrP, acfA, and ribB were directly activated via LuxR-3-oxo-C6-HSL in recombinant Escherichia coli. The sites of transcription initiation were established via primer extension analysis. Based on the position of the lux box-binding site near position –40, all three promoters appear to have a class II-type promoter structure. Real-time reverse transcription-PCR was used to study the temporal expression of qsrP, acfA, and ribB during the exponential and stationary phases of growth, and electrophoretic mobility shift assays were used to compare the binding affinities of LuxR to the promoters under investigation.

In order to fully characterize the LuxR regulon in V. fischeri ES114, microarray analysis was performed in the Greenberg lab (University of Washington) and 18 LuxR-3-oxo-C6-HSL regulated promoters were found including 2 genes (qsrP and acfA) identified previously in MJ-100 in addition to the well-studied lux operon. In collaboration with them, full-length purified LuxR protein was used to show direct interaction between the LuxR protein and 7 genes/operons newly identified out of 13 genes/operons examined. The binding affinity between LuxR proteins and those genes was also measured.

Based on the sequence of the lux boxes of the known genes regulated by LuxR and LitR, a position specific weight matrix (PSWM) was created and used to search through the intergenic regions of the V. fischeri ES114 genome. Some potential LuxR and LitR-regulated genes with high score were tested experimently to confirm direct activation. For the LuxR regulon, these possible LuxR-regulated promoters were cloned into a lacZ reporter and tested for their LuxR dependence. Beyond the genes found in microarray, the promoter of the intergenic region VFA0658-0659 was found to be activated by LuxR and 3-oxo-C6-HSL. For the LitR regulon, two LitR-regulated genes found in the microarray were also identified using PSWM and confirmed by real-time PCR to be dependent on LitR for expression. EMSA experiments showed that LitR can specifically bind to the litR boxes of LitR-regulated genes, litR and VF0170 which confirmed that the regulation is direct.

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