Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Kalai Mathee

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Stephen Lory

Third Advisor's Name

Giri Narasimhan

Fourth Advisor's Name

John Makemson

Fifth Advisor's Name

Fernando Noriega


Pseudomonas aeruginosa, AmpR, virulence, small RNA, antibiotic resistance, gene regulatory network, acute and chronic infection, microarray, RNA-Seq, ChIP-Seq

Date of Defense



In Enterobacteriaceae, the transcriptional regulator AmpR, a member of the LysR family, regulates the expression of a chromosomal β-lactamase AmpC. The regulatory repertoire of AmpR is broader in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen responsible for numerous acute and chronic infections including cystic fibrosis. Previous studies showed that in addition to regulating ampC, P. aeruginosa AmpR regulates the sigma factor AlgT/U and production of some quorum sensing (QS)-regulated virulence factors. In order to better understand the ampR regulon, the transcriptional profiles generated using DNA microarrays and RNA-Seq of the prototypic P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain with its isogenic ampR deletion mutant, PAO∆ampR were analyzed. Transcriptome analysis demonstrates that the AmpR regulon is much more extensive than previously thought influencing the differential expression of over 500 genes. In addition to regulating resistance to β-lactam antibiotics via AmpC, AmpR also regulates non-β-lactam antibiotic resistance by modulating the MexEF-OprN efflux pump. Virulence mechanisms including biofilm formation, QS-regulated acute virulence, and diverse physiological processes such as oxidative stress response, heat-shock response and iron uptake are AmpR-regulated. Real-time PCR and phenotypic assays confirmed the transcriptome data. Further, Caenorhabditis elegans model demonstrates that a functional AmpR is required for full pathogenicity of P. aeruginosa. AmpR, a member of the core genome, also regulates genes in the regions of genome plasticity that are acquired by horizontal gene transfer. The extensive AmpR regulon included other transcriptional regulators and sigma factors, accounting for the extensive AmpR regulon. Gene expression studies demonstrate AmpR-dependent expression of the QS master regulator LasR that controls expression of many virulence factors. Using a chromosomally tagged AmpR, ChIP-Seq studies show direct AmpR binding to the lasR promoter. The data demonstrates that AmpR functions as a global regulator in P. aeruginosa and is a positive regulator of acute virulence while negatively regulating chronic infection phenotypes. In summary, my dissertation sheds light on the complex regulatory circuit in P. aeruginosa to provide a better understanding of the bacterial response to antibiotics and how the organism coordinately regulates a myriad of virulence factors.





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