Yersinia pseudotuberculosis forms biofilms on Caenorhabditis elegans which block nematode feeding. This genetically amenable host-pathogen model has important implications for biofilm development on living, motile surfaces. Here we show that Y. pseudotuberculosis biofilm development on C. elegans is governed by N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)- mediated quorum sensing (QS) since (i) AHLs are produced in nematode associated biofilms and (ii) Y. pseudotuberculosis strains expressing an AHL-degrading enzyme or in which the AHL synthase (ypsI and ytbI) or response regulator (ypsR and ytbR) genes have been mutated, are attenuated. Although biofilm formation is also attenuated in Y. pseudotuberculosis strains carrying mutations in the QS-controlled motility regulator genes, flhDC and fliA, and the flagellin export gene, flhA, flagella are not required since fliC mutants form normal biofilms. However, in contrast to the parent and fliC mutant, Yop virulon proteins are up-regulated in flhDC, fliA and flhA mutants in a temperature and calcium independent manner. Similar observations were found for the Y. pseudotuberculosis QS mutants, indicating that the Yop virulon is repressed by QS via the master motility regulator, flhDC. By curing the pYV virulence plasmid from the ypsI/ytbI mutant, by growing YpIII under conditions permissive for type III needle formation but not Yop secretion and by mutating the type III secretion apparatus gene, yscJ, we show that biofilm formation can be restored in flhDC and ypsI/ytbI mutants. These data demonstrate that type III secretion blocks biofilm formation and is reciprocally regulated with motility via QS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology