Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.104, No.4, 1707-1720, 2020
Characterization of a cell density-dependent sRNA, Qrr, and its roles in the regulation of the quorum sensing and metabolism in Vibrio alginolyticus
Vibrio alginolyticus is an important fish pathogen causing pandemic diseases in marine animals. Small noncoding RNAs (sRNAs) are important posttranscriptional modulators of gene expression and involved in the pathogenesis of bacterial pathogens. Thus far, no cell density-dependent sRNA has been reported in V. alginolyticus. In this study, a cell density-dependent sRNA, Qrr, predicted based on the previous RNA-Seq analysis of V. alginolyticus cultured at low cell density (LCD) and high cell density (HCD), was characterized. The Qrr mutant showed significantly impaired growth and decreased swimming and swarming ability, and increased biofilm formation, extracellular polysaccharide content, serine protease production, and LD50 values during zebrafish infection in contrast to the wild-type strain. Qrr modulates the master regulators LuxR and AphA in quorum sensing (QS) pathways possibly at the posttranscriptional level by base pairing with the 5 '-untranslated regions (5 '-UTRs). Meanwhile, both LuxR and AphA could directly bind to the promoter of qrr to activate or repress its transcription, respectively. Moreover, our unbiased metabolic approaches revealed that Qrr modulates a large quantity of metabolic and lipidomic pathways, including amino acids, purine and pyrimidine derivatives, tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle) intermediates, and lipids. Collectively, this work contributes to a systematic understanding of regulatory roles of the cell density-dependent sRNA, Qrr, in V. alginolyticus.