Multiple signalling systems controlling expression of luminescence in Vibrio harveyi: sequence and function of genes encoding a second sensory pathway.
Density-dependent expression of luminescence in Vibrio harveyi is regulated by the concentration of extracellular signal molecules (autoinducers) in the culture medium. One signal-response system is encoded by the luxL,M,N locus. The luxL and luxM genes are required for the production of an autoinducer (probably beta-hydroxybutyl homoserine lactone), and the luxN gene is required for the response to that autoinducer. Analysis of the phenotypes of LuxL,M and N mutants indicated that an additional signal-response system also controls density sensing. We report here the identification, cloning and analysis of luxP and luxQ, which encode functions required for a second density-sensing system. Mutants with defects in luxP and luxQ are defective in response to a second autoinducer substance. LuxQ, like LuxN, is similar to members of the family of two-component, signal transduction proteins and contains both a histidine protein kinase and a response regulator domain. Analysis of signalling mutant phenotypes indicates that there are at least two separate signal-response pathways which converge to regulate expression of luminescence in V. harveyi.