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Schell, Ursula; Simon, Sylvia; Sahr, Tobias; Hager, Dominik; Albers, Michael F.; Kessler, Aline; Fahrnbauer, Felix; Trauner, Dirk; Hedberg, Christian; Buchrieser, Carmen; Hilbi, Hubert (2016): The α-hydroxyketone LAI-1 regulates motility, Lqs-dependent phosphorylation signalling and gene expression of Legionella pneumophila. In: Molecular Microbiology, Vol. 99, No. 4: pp. 778-793
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The causative agent of Legionnaires' disease, Legionella pneumophila, employs the autoinducer compound LAI-1 (3-hydroxypentadecane-4-one) for cell-cell communication. LAI-1 is produced and detected by the Lqs (Legionella quorum sensing) system, comprising the autoinducer synthase LqsA, the sensor kinases LqsS and LqsT, as well as the response regulator LqsR. Lqs-regulated processes include pathogen-host interactions, production of extracellular filaments and natural competence for DNA uptake. Here we show that synthetic LAI-1 promotes the motility of L. pneumophila by signalling through LqsS/LqsT and LqsR. Upon addition of LAI-1, autophosphorylation of LqsS/LqsT by [-P-32]-ATP was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, the Vibrio cholerae autoinducer CAI-1 (3-hydroxytridecane-4-one) promoted the phosphorylation of LqsS (but not LqsT). LAI-1 did neither affect the stability of phospho-LqsS or phospho-LqsT, nor the dephosphorylation by LqsR. Transcriptome analysis of L. pneumophila treated with LAI-1 revealed that the compound positively regulates a number of genes, including the non-coding RNAsrsmY and rsmZ, and negatively regulates the RNA-binding global regulator crsA. Accordingly, LAI-1 controls the switch from the replicative to the transmissive growth phase of L. pneumophila. In summary, the findings indicate that LAI-1 regulates motility and the biphasic life style of L. pneumophila through LqsS- and LqsT-dependent phosphorylation signalling.