Suppiger, A., Eshwar, A.K., Stephan, R., Kaever, V., Eberl, L., Lehner, A. (2016) The DSF type quorum sensing signalling system RpfF/R regulates diverse phenotypes in the opportunistic pathogen Cronobacter. Scientific Reports. 6:18753.
Several bacterial pathogens produce diffusible signal factor (DSF)-type quorum sensing (QS) signals to control biofilm formation and virulence. Previous work showed that in Burkholderia cenocepacia the RpfFBc/RpfR system is involved in sensing and responding to DSF signals and that this signal/sensor gene pair is highly conserved in several bacterial species including Cronobacter spp. Here we show that C. turicensis LMG 23827(T) possesses a functional RpfF/R system that is involved in the regulation of various phenotypes, including colony morphology, biofilm formation and swarming motility. In vivo experiments using the zebrafish embryo model revealed a role of this regulatory system in virulence of this opportunistic pathogen. We provide evidence that the RpfF/R system modulates the intracellular c-di-GMP level of the organism, an effect that may underpin the alteration in phenotype and thus the regulated phenotypes may be a consequence thereof. This first report on an RpfF/R-type QS system of an organism outside the genus Burkholderia revealed that both the underlying molecular mechanisms as well as the regulated functions show a high degree of conservation.