The Aeromonas Hydrophila LuxR Homologue AhyR Regulates the N-acyl Homoserine Lactone Synthase, AhyI Positively and Negatively in a Growth Phase-Dependent Manner

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2004 Dec 1;241(1):109-17. doi: 10.1016/j.femsle.2004.10.011.


Aeromonas hydrophila is a pathogen of fish, amphibians and humans which produces N-acylhomoserine lactone quorum sensing signal molecules and possesses homologues of the Vibrio fischeri luxI and luxR quorum sensing genes termed ahyI and ahyR, respectively. The ahyI and ahyR genes of A. hydrophila comprise a divergon with a 62 bp intergenic region and control biofilm maturation and extracellular protease production. Stationary phase culture supernatants from an ahyR but not an ahyI mutant contain N-butanoylhomoserine lactone (C4-HSL) which is shown to be required for maximal ahyI expression. To determine whether AhyR regulates ahyI, the expression of AhyI was followed throughout growth by Western blot analysis. This revealed that AhyI can be detected in the exponential phase but appears to be degraded in stationary phase in the parent A. hydrophila strain. In an ahyR mutant however, the AhyI protein is only produced in stationary phase but production is sustained suggesting that AhyR controls the timing of AhyI production and turnover. By using RT-PCR, we mapped the transcriptional start site of ahyI which revealed that the 12 bp symmetrical lux-box like sequence present in the 62 bp ahyRI intergenic region overlaps with the -10 region of the ahyI promoter. To determine whether AhyR could bind to the ahyRI intergenic region, the ahyR gene was expressed and purified as a maltose binding protein (MalE) fusion. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated that MalE-AhyR specifically bound to this sequence in both the presence and absence of N-butanoylhomoserine lactone (C4-HSL). Taken together, these data suggest that AhyR acts as both a negative and a positive regulator of ahyI and hence C4-HSL production in a growth phase dependent manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / biosynthesis*
  • Aeromonas hydrophila / genetics
  • Aeromonas hydrophila / growth & development
  • Aeromonas hydrophila / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Binding Sites
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Maltose-Binding Proteins
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • AhyRI protein, Aeromonas
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Maltose-Binding Proteins
  • N-butyrylhomoserine lactone
  • DNA
  • 4-Butyrolactone