Evolutionary plasticity of AmrZ regulation in Pseudomonas

David A. Baltrus, Kevin Dougherty, Beatriz Diaz, Rachel Murillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


amrZ encodes a master regulator protein conserved across pseudomonads, which can be either a positive or negative regulator of swimming motility depending on the species examined. To better understand plasticity in the regulatory function of AmrZ, we characterized the mode of regulation for this protein for two different motility-related phenotypes in Pseudomonas stutzeri. As in Pseudomonas syringae, AmrZ functions as a positive regulator of swimming motility within P. stutzeri, which suggests that the functions of this protein with regard to swimming motility have switched at least twice across pseudomonads. Shifts in mode of regulation cannot be explained by changes in AmrZ sequence alone. We further show that AmrZ acts as a positive regulator of colony spreading within this strain and that this regulation is at least partially independent of swimming motility. Closer investigation of mechanistic shifts in dual-function regulators like AmrZ could provide unique insights into how transcriptional pathways are rewired between closely related species. IMPORTANCE Microbes often display finely tuned patterns of gene regulation across different environments, with major regulatory changes controlled by a small group of "master" regulators within each cell. AmrZ is a master regulator of gene expression across pseudomonads and can be either a positive or negative regulator for a variety of pathways depending on the strain and genomic context. Here, we demonstrate that the phenotypic outcomes of regulation of swimming motility by AmrZ have switched at least twice independently in pseudomonads, so that AmrZ promotes increased swimming motility in P. stutzeri and P. syringae but represses this phenotype in Pseudomonas fluorescens and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Since examples of switches in regulatory mode are relatively rare, further investigation into the mechanisms underlying shifts in regulator function for AmrZ could provide unique insights into the evolution of bacterial regulatory proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00132-18
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • AmrZ
  • Motility
  • Pseudomonas stutzeri

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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