Diffusible signal factor signaling regulates multiple functions in the opportunistic pathogen Stenotrophomonas maltophilia
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a Gram-negative bacterium commonly isolated from nosocomial infections. Analysis of the genome of the clinical S. maltophilia isolate K279a indicates that it encodes a diffusible signal factor (DSF)-dependent cell-cell signaling mechanism that is highly similar to the system previously described in phytopathogens from the genera Xanthomonas and Xylella. Our objective was to study the function of DSF signaling in the clinical strain S. maltophilia K279a using genetic and functional genomic analyses. We compared the wild-type strain with a mutant deficient in the rpfF (regulation of pathogenicity factors) gene that is essential for the synthesis of DSF. The effects of disruption of DSF signaling were pleiotropic with an impact on virulence, biofilm formation and pathogenesis. The phenotypic effects of rpfF mutation in S. maltophilia could be reversed by addition of exogenous DSF. Taken together, we demonstrate that DSF signaling regulates factors contributing to virulence, biofilm formation and motility of this important opportunistic pathogen.