Lecture: Kai Papenfort

Prof. Dr. Kai Papenfort (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)


Title:     From Strings of Nucleotides to Collective Behavior: “Lessons from Vibrio cholerae”

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Tuesday, January 17th, 2017, 5.15 pm

Campus Riedberg, Biozentrum, Raum NU 260/3.13


Quorum-sensing (QS), is a process of bacterial cell-to-cell communication that relies on
the production, release, and population-wide detection of extracellular signal molecules.
Processes controlled by QS are unproductive when undertaken by an individual bacterium but
become effective when undertaken by the group. QS controls many important microbial
processes including bioluminescence, secretion of virulence factors, competence and biofilm
formation. In this study, we identified and characterized of a novel bacterial communication
system present in Vibrio cholerae. This system consists of a transcriptional regulator, VqmA
and a small regulatory RNA (sRNA), VqmR. VqmR is activated by VqmA and functions as a
trans-acting regulator through base-pairing with multiple target mRNAs. Among these targets
are key factors for biofilm formation and virulence factor expression in V. cholerae indicating
that VqmA/R could participate in the regulation of complex behaviors. Indeed, our results
show that VqmA binds to and is activated by an extracellular signal, which we determined as
the novel autoinducer molecule, DPO. DPO is a new molecule to biology and is produced by
diverse pro- and eukaryotes. Further, we obtained evidence that the signaling molecule is
produced by commensal species of the host microbiota and that VqmA/R plays an important
role during V. cholerae pathogenesis and the communication with other bacteria.