Pseudomonas aeruginosa defies eradication by antibiotics and is responsible for acute and chronic human infections due to a wide variety of virulence factors. Currently, it is believed that MvfR (PqsR) controls the expression of many of these factors indirectly via the pqs and phnAB operons. Here we provide strong evidence that MvfR may also bind and directly regulate the expression of additional 35 loci across the P. aeruginosa genome, including major regulators and virulence factors, such as the quorum sensing (QS) regulators lasR and rhlR, and genes involved in protein secretion, translation, and response to oxidative stress. We show that these anti-oxidant systems, AhpC-F, AhpB-TrxB2 and Dps, are critical for P. aeruginosa survival to reactive oxygen species and antibiotic tolerance. Considering that MvfR regulated compounds generate reactive oxygen species, this indicates a tightly regulated QS self-defense anti-poisoning system. These findings also challenge the current hierarchical regulation model of P. aeruginosa QS systems by revealing new interconnections between them that suggest a circular model. Moreover, they uncover a novel role for MvfR in self-defense that favors antibiotic tolerance and cell survival, further demonstrating MvfR as a highly desirable anti-virulence target.
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© The Author(s) 2016.