Quorum sensing in Burkholderia cepacia: Identification of the LuxrI homologs CepRI

Shawn Lewenza, Barbara Conway, E. P. Greenberg, Pamela A. Sokol

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

287 Citations (Scopus)


Burkholderia cepacia has emerged as an important pathogen in patients with cystic fibrosis. Many gram-negative pathogens regulate the production of extracellular virulence factors by a cell density-dependent mechanism termed quorum sensing, which involves production of diffusible N-acylated homoserine lactone signal molecules, called autoinducers. Transposon insertion mutants of B. cepacia K56-2 which hyperproduced siderophores on chrome azurol S agar were identified. One mutant, K56-R2, contained an insertion in a luxR homolog that was designated cepR. The flanking DNA region was used to clone the wild- type copy of cepR. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of cepI, a luxI homolog, located 727 bp upstream and divergently transcribed from cepR. A lux box-like sequence was identified upstream of cepI. CepR was 36% identical to Pseudomonas aeruginosa RhlR and 67% identical to SolR of Ralstonia solanacearum. CepI was 38% identical to RhlI and 64% identical to SolI. K56- R2 demonstrated a 67% increase in the production of the siderophore ornibactin, was protease negative on dialyzed brain heart infusion milk agar, and produced 45% less lipase activity in comparison to the parental strain. Complementation of a cepR mutation restored parental levels of ornibactin and protease but not lipase. An N-acylhomoserine lactone was purified from culture fluids and identified as N-octanoylhomoserine lactone. K56-I2, a cepI mutant, was created and shown not to produce N-octanoylhomoserine lactone. K56-I2 hyperproduced ornibactin and did not produce protease. These data suggest both a positive and negative role for cepIR in the regulation of extracellular virulence factor production by B. cepacia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-756
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb. 1999


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