Bright luminescence ofVibrio fischeriaconitase mutants reveals a connection between citrate and the Gac/Csr regulatory system

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The Gac/Csr regulatory system is conserved throughout the γ-proteobacteria and controls key pathways in central carbon metabolism, quorum sensing, biofilm formation and virulence in important plant and animal pathogens. Here we show that elevated intracellular citrate levels in aVibrio fischeriaconitase mutant correlate with activation of the Gac/Csr cascade and induction of bright luminescence. Spontaneous or directed mutations in the gene that encodes citrate synthase reversed the bright luminescence of aconitase mutants, eliminated their citrate accumulation and reversed their elevated expression of CsrB. Our data elucidate a correlative link between central metabolic and regulatory pathways, and they suggest that the Gac system senses a blockage at the aconitase step of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, either through elevated citrate levels or a secondary metabolic effect of citrate accumulation, and responds by modulating carbon flow and various functions associated with host colonization, including bioluminescence.

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