plcR1 and plcR2 are putative calcium-binding proteins required for secretion of the hemolytic phospholipase C of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Adela Cota-Gomez, Adriana I. Vasil, Jagath Kadurugamuwa, Terrance J. Beveridge, Herbert P. Schweizer, Michael L. Vasil

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34 Scopus citations


The plcHR operon of Pseudomonas aeruginosa includes the structural gene for the hemolytic phospholipase C, plcH (previously known aspicS), and two overlapping, in-phase, genes designated plcR1 and plcR2. Hemolytic and phospholipase C (PLC) activities produced by Escherichia coli and P. aeruginosa T7 expression systems were measured in strains carrying both plcH and plcR genes and in strains carrying each gene separately. When pith was expressed by itself in the E. coli T7 system, the area of the hemolytic zone on blood agar was less than twice the area of growth. By contrast, when plcR was coexpressed with plcH in this system, the area of the hemolytic zone was approximately 10 times that of the area of the growth on blood agar. Native polyacrylamide gel electrophoretic analyses of PlcH activity expressed in either the E. coli or the P. aeruginosa T7 system carrying plcH alone, or along with the plcR genes, suggest that PlcR either posttranslationally alters the physical or biochemical nature of PlcH or releases PlcH from a complex in the cell so that it can be secreted. The hypothesis that PlcR is involved in the secretion of PlcH is supported by the observation that the ratio of extracellular to cell-associated PlcH activity produced by P. aeruginosa strains containing an in-frame deletion in the chromosomal plcR genes is significantly reduced in comparison with this ratio seen with the wild-type parental strain. This defect in the secretion of PlcH can be complemented by the plcR genes in trans. Additional data suggest that PlcR does not directly affect the secretion of the nonhemolytic phospholipase C (PlcN). PlcR is highly similar to a calcium-binding protein (CAB) from Streptomyces erythraeus. PlcR and CAB contain typical motifs (EF hands) characteristic of eucaryotic calcium-binding proteins, including calmodulin. P. aeruginosa naturally produces membrane vesicles (MVs) containing extracellular proteins including PLC. MVs from the PAO1WT strain contained at least 10-fold more PLC specific activity than those isolated from a strain carrying a deletion of plcR (PAO1ΔR). Immunogold electron microscopy of PAO1WT and PAO1ΔR whole cells revealed a distribution of PlcH in these strains consistent with the hypothesis that PlcR is required for the secretion of PlcH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2904-2913
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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