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Summary

In Pseudomonas aeruginosa quorum sensing (QS), the transcriptional regulator LasR controls the expression of more than 300 genes. Several of these genes are activated indirectly via a second, subordinate QS regulator, RhlR. Conserved sequence elements upstream of individual other genes have been shown to bind LasR in vitro. To comprehensively identify all regions that are bound by LasR in vivo, we employed chromatin immunoprecipitation in conjunction with microarray analysis. We identified 35 putative promoter regions that direct the expression of up to 74 genes. In vitro DNA binding studies allowed us to distinguish between cooperative and non-cooperative LasR binding sites, and allowed us to build consensus sequences according to the mode of binding. Five promoter regions were not previously recognized as QS-controlled. Two of the associated transcript units encode proteins involved in the cold-shock response and in Psl exopolysaccharide synthesis respectively. The LasR regulon includes seven genes encoding transcriptional regulators, while secreted factors and secretion machinery are the most over-represented functional categories overall. This supports the notion that the core function of LasR is to co-ordinate the production of extracellular factors, although many of its effects on global gene expression are likely mediated indirectly by regulatory genes under its control.