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Salmonella Biofilm Development Depends on the Phosphorylation Status of RcsB

Latasa, Cristina, García, Begoña, Echeverz, Maite, Toledo-Arana, Alejandro, Valle, Jaione, Campoy, Susana, García-del Portillo, Francisco, Solano, Cristina, Lasa, Iñigo
Journal of bacteriology 2012 v.194 no.14 pp. 3708-3722
Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium, alleles, biofilm, gene expression, histidine kinase, intestinal microorganisms, non-coding RNA, phosphorylation, signal transduction
The Rcs phosphorelay pathway is a complex signaling pathway involved in the regulation of many cell surface structures in enteric bacteria. In response to environmental stimuli, the sensor histidine kinase (RcsC) autophosphorylates and then transfers the phosphate through intermediary steps to the response regulator (RcsB), which, once phosphorylated, regulates gene expression. Here, we show that Salmonella biofilm development depends on the phosphorylation status of RcsB. Thus, unphosphorylated RcsB, hitherto assumed to be inactive, is essential to activate the expression of the biofilm matrix compounds. The prevention of RcsB phosphorylation either by the disruption of the phosphorelay at the RcsC or RcsD level or by the production of a nonphosphorylatable RcsB allele induces biofilm development. On the contrary, the phosphorylation of RcsB by the constitutive activation of the Rcs pathway inhibits biofilm development, an effect that can be counteracted by the introduction of a nonphosphorylatable RcsB allele. The inhibition of biofilm development by phosphorylated RcsB is due to the repression of CsgD expression, through a mechanism dependent on the accumulation of the small noncoding RNA RprA. Our results indicate that unphosphorylated RcsB plays an active role for integrating environmental signals and, more broadly, that RcsB phosphorylation acts as a key switch between planktonic and sessile life-styles in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.