Conversion of Norepinephrine to 3,4-Dihdroxymandelic Acid in Escherichia coli Requires the QseBC Quorum-Sensing System and the FeaR Transcription Factor. Academic Article uri icon


  • The detection of norepinephrine (NE) as a chemoattractant by Escherichia coli strain K-12 requires the combined action of the TynA monoamine oxidase and the FeaB aromatic aldehyde dehydrogenase. The role of these enzymes is to convert NE into 3,4-dihydroxymandelic acid (DHMA), which is a potent chemoattractant sensed by the Tsr chemoreceptor. These two enzymes must be induced by prior exposure to NE, and cells that are exposed to NE for the first time initially show minimal chemotaxis toward it. The induction of TynA and FeaB requires the QseC quorum-sensing histidine kinase, and the signaling cascade requires new protein synthesis. Here, we demonstrate that the cognate response regulator for QseC, the transcription factor QseB, is also required for induction. The related quorum-sensing kinase QseE appears not to be part of the signaling pathway, but its cognate response regulator, QseF, which is also a substrate for phosphotransfer from QseC, plays a nonessential role. The promoter of the feaR gene, which encodes a transcription factor that has been shown to be essential for the expression of tynA and feaB, has two predicted QseB-binding sites. One of these sites appears to be in an appropriate position to stimulate transcription from the P1 promoter of the feaR gene. This study unites two well-known pathways: one for expression of genes regulated by catecholamines (QseBC) and one for expression of genes required for metabolism of aromatic amines (FeaR, TynA, and FeaB). This cross talk allows E. coli to convert the host-derived and chemotactically inert NE into the potent bacterial chemoattractant DHMA.IMPORTANCE The chemotaxis of E. coli K-12 to norepinephrine (NE) requires the conversion of NE to 3,4-dihydroxymandleic acid (DHMA), and DHMA is both an attractant and inducer of virulence gene expression for a pathogenic enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) strain. The induction of virulence by DHMA and NE requires QseC. The results described here show that the cognate response regulator for QseC, QseB, is also required for conversion of NE into DHMA. Production of DHMA requires induction of a pathway involved in the metabolism of aromatic amines. Thus, the QseBC sensory system provides a direct link between virulence and chemotaxis, suggesting that chemotaxis to host signaling molecules may require that those molecules are first metabolized by bacterial enzymes to generate the actual chemoattractant.

published proceedings

  • J Bacteriol

author list (cited authors)

  • Pasupuleti, S., Sule, N., Manson, M. D., & Jayaraman, A.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Pasupuleti, Sasikiran||Sule, Nitesh||Manson, Michael D||Jayaraman, Arul

editor list (cited editors)

  • Zhulin, I. B.

publication date

  • January 2018