Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a human pathogen that relies on quorum sensing to establish infections. The PqsE quorum-sensing protein is required for P. aeruginosa virulence factor production and infection. PqsE has a reported enzymatic function in the biosynthesis of the quorum-sensing autoinducer called PQS. However, this activity is redundant because, in the absence of PqsE, this role is fulfilled by alternative thioesterases. Rather, PqsE drives P. aeruginosa pathogenic traits via a protein-protein interaction with the quorum-sensing receptor/transcription factor RhlR, an interaction that enhances the affinity of RhlR for target DNA sequences. PqsE catalytic activity is dispensable for interaction with RhlR. Thus, the virulence function of PqsE can be decoupled from its catalytic function. Here, we present an immunoprecipitation-mass spectrometry method employing enhanced green fluorescent protein-PqsE fusions to define the protein interactomes of wild-type PqsE and the catalytically inactive PqsE(D73A) variant in P. aeruginosa and their dependence on RhlR. Several proteins were identified to have specific interactions with wild-type PqsE while not forming associations with PqsE(D73A). In the DrhlR strain, an increased number of specific PqsE interactors were identified, including the partner autoinducer synthase for RhlR, called RhlI. Collectively, these results suggest that specific protein-protein interactions depend on PqsE catalytic activity and that RhlR may prevent proteins from interacting with PqsE, possibly due to competition between RhlR and other proteins for PqsE binding. Our results provide a foundation for the identification of the in vivo PqsE catalytic function and, potentially, new proteins involved in P. aeruginosa quorum sensing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- biosynthetic pathways
- protein-protein interactions
- quorum sensing