Two enhancer binding proteins activate σ54-dependent transcription of a quorum regulatory RNA in a bacterial symbiont

Ericka D. Surrett, Kirsten R. Guckes, Shyan Cousins, Terry B. Ruskoski, Andrew G. Cecere, Denise A. Ludvik, C. Denise Okafor, Mark J. Mandel, Tim I. Miyashiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


To colonize a host, bacteria depend on an ensemble of signaling systems to convert information about the various environments encountered within the host into specific cellular activ-ities. How these signaling systems coordinate transitions between cellular states in vivo remains poorly understood. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated how the bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri initially colonizes the light organ of the Hawaiian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes. Previous work has shown that the small RNA Qrr1, which is a regulatory component of the quorum-sensing system in V. fischeri, promotes host colonization. Here, we report that transcriptional activation of Qrr1 is inhibited by the sensor kinase BinK, which suppresses cellular aggregation by V. fischeri prior to light organ entry. We show that Qrr1 expression depends on the alternative sigma factor σ54 and the transcription factors LuxO and SypG, which function similar to an OR logic gate, thereby ensuring Qrr1 is expressed during colonization. Finally, we provide evidence that this regulatory mechanism is widespread throughout the Vibrionaceae family. Together, our work reveals how coordination between the signaling pathways underlying aggregation and quorum-sensing promotes host colonization, which provides insight into how integration among signaling systems facilitates complex processes in bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere78544
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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