The causative agent of Legionnaires' disease, Legionella pneumophila, employs the autoinducer compound LAI-1 (3-hydroxypentadecane-4-one) for cell-cell communication. LAI-1 is produced and detected by the Lqs (Legionella quorum sensing) system, comprising the autoinducer synthase LqsA, the sensor kinases LqsS and LqsT, as well as the response regulator LqsR. Lqs-regulated processes include pathogen-host interactions, production of extracellular filaments and natural competence for DNA uptake. Here we show that synthetic LAI-1 promotes the motility of L. pneumophila by signalling through LqsS/LqsT and LqsR. Upon addition of LAI-1, autophosphorylation of LqsS/LqsT by [γ-32P]-ATP was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, the Vibrio cholerae autoinducer CAI-1 (3-hydroxytridecane-4-one) promoted the phosphorylation of LqsS (but not LqsT). LAI-1 did neither affect the stability of phospho-LqsS or phospho-LqsT, nor the dephosphorylation by LqsR. Transcriptome analysis of L. pneumophila treated with LAI-1 revealed that the compound positively regulates a number of genes, including the non-coding RNAsrsmY and rsmZ, and negatively regulates the RNA-binding global regulator crsA. Accordingly, LAI-1 controls the switch from the replicative to the transmissive growth phase of L. pneumophila. In summary, the findings indicate that LAI-1 regulates motility and the biphasic life style of L. pneumophila through LqsS- and LqsT-dependent phosphorylation signalling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology