Diversification of the Function of Cell-to-Cell Signaling in Regulation of Virulence Within Plant Pathogenic Xanthomonads
The virulence of plant pathogenic bacteria belonging to the genera Xanthomonas and Xylella depends upon cell-to-cell signaling mediated by the diffusible signal molecule DSF (Diffusible Signaling Factor). Synthesis and perception of the DSF signal require products of the rpf gene cluster. The synthesis of DSF depends on RpfF, whereas the RpfC/RpfG two-component system is implicated in DSF perception and signal transduction. The sensor RpfC acts to negatively regulate synthesis of DSF. In Xanthomonas campestris, mutation of rpfF or rpfC leads to a coordinate down-regulation in synthesis of virulence factors and a reduction in virulence. In contrast, in Xylella fastidiosa, the causal agent of Pierce's disease of grape, mutation of rpfF and rpfC have opposite effects on virulence, with rpfF mutants exhibiting a hypervirulent phenotype. The findings suggest that different xanthomonads have adapted the perception and function of similar types of signaling molecule to fit the specific needs for colonization of different hosts.