The profuse production of the exopolysaccharide alginate results in mucoidy, a critical virulence factor expressed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa during chronic respiratory tract infections in cystic fibrosis. Studies of the regulation of this pathogenic determinant have unravelled at least two levels of control, including bacterial signal transduction systems and histone-like elements. Although only in its initial phase, an understanding of the dual control of mucoidy may help to illuminate adaptive processes that depend on the combination of these regulatory factors. Integration of specific signals transduced by the two-component systems with inputs generated by the general state of bacterial nucleoids may govern the expression of certain virulence determinants and provide a framework facilitating selection of pheno-types successful under particular environmental conditions and selective pressures.
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