The global activator GacA of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO positively controls the production of the autoinducer N-butyryl-homoserine lactone and the formation of the virulence factors pyocyanin, cyanide, and lipase


Dieter Haas E-mail Dieter.Haas@lbm.; Tel. (21) 692 56 31; Fax (21) 692 56 35.


The global activator GacA, a highly conserved response regulator in Gram-negative bacteria, is required for the production of exoenzymes and secondary metabolites in Pseudomonas spp. The gacA gene of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 was isolated and its role in cell-density-dependent gene expression was characterized. Mutational inactivation of gacA resulted in delayed and reduced formation of the cell-density signal N-butyryl-l-homoserine lactone (BHL), of the cognate transcriptional activator RhlR (VsmR), and of the transcriptional activator LasR, which is known to positively regulate RhlR expression. Amplification of gacA on a multicopy plasmid caused precocious and enhanced production of BHL, RhlR and LasR. In parallel, the gacA gene dosage markedly influenced the BHL/RhlR-dependent formation of the cytotoxic compounds pyocyanin and cyanide and the exoenzyme lipase. However, the concentrations of another known cell-density signal of P. aeruginosa, N-oxododecanoyl-l-homoserine lactone, did not always match BHL concentrations. A model accounting for these observations places GacA function upstream of LasR and RhlR in the complex, cell-density-dependent signal-transduction pathway regulating several exoproducts and virulence factors of P. aeruginosa via BHL.