The GacA global regulator of Vibrio fischeri is required for normal host tissue responses that limit subsequent bacterial colonization


Harmful and beneficial bacterium?host interactions induce similar host-tissue changes that lead to contrasting outcomes of association. A life-long association between Vibrio fischeri and the light organ of its host Euprymna scolopes begins when the squid collects bacteria from the surrounding seawater using mucus secreted from ciliated epithelial appendages. Following colonization, the bacterium causes changes in host tissue including cessation of mucus shedding, and apoptosis and regression of the appendages that may limit additional bacterial interactions. We evaluated whether delivery of morphogenic signals is influenced by GacA, a virulence regulator in pathogens, which also influences squid-colonization by V. fischeri. Low-level colonization by a GacA mutant led to regression of the ciliated appendages. However, the GacA mutant did not induce cessation of mucus shedding, nor did it trigger apoptosis in the appendages, a phenotype that normally correlates with their regression. Because apoptosis is triggered by lipopolysaccharide, we examined the GacA mutant and determined that it had an altered lipopolysaccharide profile as well as an increased sensitivity to detergents. GacA-mutant-colonized animals were highly susceptible to invasion by secondary colonizers, suggesting that the GacA mutant's inability to signal the full programme of light-organ responses permitted the prolonged recruitment of additional symbionts.

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Cellular microbiology



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Copyright © 2006, John Wiley and Sons