A genetic analysis of the function of LuxO, a two-component response regulator involved in quorum sensing in Vibrio harveyi

Mol Microbiol. 1999 Jan;31(2):665-77. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1999.01208.x.


Two independent quorum-sensing systems control the expression of bioluminescence (lux) in the marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi. Each system is composed of an autoinducer (AI-1 or AI-2) and its cognate sensor (LuxN or LuxQ). The sensors are two-component hybrid kinases, containing both sensor kinase domains and response regulator domains. Sensory information from the two systems is relayed by a phosphotransfer mechanism to a shared integrator protein called LuxO. LuxO is a member of the response regulator class of the two-component family of signal transduction proteins, and LuxO acts negatively to control luminescence. In this report, missense and in frame deletion mutations were constructed in luxO that encoded proteins mimicking either the phosphorylated or the unphosphorylated form, and these mutations were introduced into the V. harveyi chromosome at the luxO locus. Phenotypical analyses of the resulting mutant V. harveyi strains indicate that the phosphorylated form of LuxO is the repressor, and that the unphosphorylated form of the protein is inactive. Analysis of the lux phenotypes of V. harveyi strains containing single and double luxN and luxQ mutations indicate that LuxN and LuxQ have two activities on LuxO. They act as LuxO protein kinases at low cell density in the absence of autoinducers, and they switch to LuxO protein phosphatases at high cell density in the presence of autoinducers. Furthermore, the timing and potency of inputs from the two systems into regulation of quorum sensing are different.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial
  • Diploidy
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphotransferases*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Vibrio / genetics*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • LuxO protein, Vibrio harveyi
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Protein Kinases
  • luxN protein, Vibrio harveyi
  • luxQ protein, Vibrio harveyi