Expression of the Quorum-Sensing Regulatory Protein LasR Is Strongly Affected by Iron and Oxygen Concentrations in Cultures of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Irrespective of Cell Density

Microbiology. 2005 Apr;151(Pt 4):1127-1138. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.27566-0.


The expression of the transcriptional regulatory protein LasR, a main component of the quorum-sensing (QS) system in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, was recently found to be sensitive to several environmental factors in addition to its dependency on cell density. However, the inherent effects of the different factors have seldom been separately demonstrated due to concurrent changes of culture conditions in typical experimental settings. Furthermore, the interplays of the different factors are unknown. In this work, the effects and interplay of iron concentration and dissolved oxygen tension (pO(2)) on the expression of lasR in P. aeruginosa were studied in defined growth media with varied iron concentration and pO(2) values in computer-controlled batch and continuous cultures. beta-Galactosidase activity in a recombinant P. aeruginosa PAO1 (NCCB 2452) strain with a lasRp-lacZ fusion was used as a reporter for lasR expression. In batch culture with a constant pO(2) approximately 10 % air saturation, a strong correlation between the exhaustion of iron and the increase of lasR expression was observed. In continuous culture with nearly constant cell density but varied pO(2) values, lasR expression generally increased with increasing oxidative stress with the exception of growth under O(2)-limited conditions (pO(2) approximately equal to 0 %). Under O(2) limitation, the expression of lasR strongly depended on the concentration of iron. It showed a nearly twofold increase in cells grown under iron deprivation in comparison with cells grown in iron-replete conditions and reached the expression level seen at high oxidative stress. A preliminary proteomic analysis was carried out for extracellular proteins in samples from batch cultures grown under different iron concentrations. Several of the extracellular proteins (e.g. AprA, LasB, PrpL) which were up-regulated under iron-limited conditions were found to be QS regulated proteins. Thus, this study clearly shows the links between QS and genes involved in iron and oxygen regulation in P. aeruginosa.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Proteome
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • LasR protein, Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Proteome
  • Trans-Activators
  • Iron
  • Oxygen