Cross-regulation by CrcZ RNA controls anoxic biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Sci Rep. 2016 Dec 21;6:39621. doi: 10.1038/srep39621.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) can thrive in anaerobic biofilms in the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Here, we show that CrcZ is the most abundant PA14 RNA bound to the global regulator Hfq in anoxic biofilms grown in cystic fibrosis sputum medium. Hfq was crucial for anoxic biofilm formation. This observation complied with an RNAseq based transcriptome analysis and follow up studies that implicated Hfq in regulation of a central step preceding denitrification. CrcZ is known to act as a decoy that sequesters Hfq during relief of carbon catabolite repression, which in turn alleviates Hfq-mediated translational repression of catabolic genes. We therefore inferred that CrcZ indirectly impacts on biofilm formation by competing for Hfq. This hypothesis was supported by the findings that over-production of CrcZ mirrored the biofilm phenotype of the hfq deletion mutant, and that deletion of the crcZ gene augmented biofilm formation. To our knowledge, this is the first example where competition for Hfq by CrcZ cross-regulates an Hfq-dependent physiological process unrelated to carbon metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Biofilms*
  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Catabolite Repression
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Mutation
  • NAD
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics*
  • RNA / analysis*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transcriptome


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Messenger
  • NAD
  • RNA
  • Carbon
  • Oxygen