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Pulse generation in the quorum machinery of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

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Publication details

JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
DateAccepted/In press - 3 May 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2017
DatePublished (current) - Jun 2017
Number of pages30
Pages (from-to)1360-1389
Early online date19/05/17
Original languageEnglish


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative bacterium that is
responsible for a wide range of infections in humans. Colonies employ quo-
rum sensing (QS) to coordinate gene expressions, including virulence factors,
swarming motility and complex social traits. The QS signalling system of P.
aeruginosa is known to involve multiple control components, notably the las,
rhl and pqs systems. In this paper, we examine the las system and, in partic-
ular, the repressive interaction of rsaL, an embedded small regulative protein,
employing recent biochemical information to aid model construction. Using
analytic methods we show how this feature can give rise to excitable pulse
generation in this subsystem with important downstream consequences for
rhamnolipid production. We adopt a symmetric competitive inhibition to cap-
ture the binding in the lasI-rsaL intergenic region and show our results are not
dependent on the exact choice of this functional form. Furthermore, we exam-
ine the coupling of lasR to the rhl system, the impact of the predicted capacity
for pulse generation and the biophysical consequences of this behaviour. We
hypothesise that the interaction between the las and rhl systems may provide
a quorum memory to enable cells to trigger rhamnolipid production only when
they are at the edge of an established aggregation.

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© The Author(s) 2017.

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