May 1, 1995

The bacterial 'enigma': cracking the code of cell-cell communication

Molecular Microbiology
George P C SalmondP Williams


In recent years it has become clear that the production of N-acyl homoserine lactones (N-AHLs) is widespread in Gram-negative bacteria. These molecules act as diffusible chemical communication signals (bacterial pheromones) which regulate diverse physiological processes including bioluminescence, antibiotic production, plasmid conjugal transfer and synthesis of exoenzyme virulence factors in plant and animal pathogens. The paradigm for N-AHL production is in the bioluminescence (lux) phenotype of Photobacterium fischeri (formerly classified as Vibrio fischeri) where the signalling molecule N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (OHHL) is synthesized by the action of the LuxI protein. OHHL is thought to bind to the LuxR protein, allowing it to act as a positive transcriptional activator in an autoinduction process that physiologically couples cell density (and growth phase) to the expression of the bioluminescence genes. Based on the growing information on LuxI and LuxR homologues in other N-AHL-producing bacterial species such as Erwinia carotovora, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Yersinia enterocolitica, Agrobacterium tumefaciens and Rhizobium leguminosarum, it seems that analogues of the P. fischeri lux autoinducer sensing system are...Continue Reading

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  • Citations142

Mentioned in this Paper

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (antigen)
Parmacochlea fischeri
Agrobacterium tumefaciens
Homoserine lactone, (S)-isomer
Phyllastrephus fischeri
Anterior Horizontal Limb of Lateral Sulcus (Human Only)
Yersinia enterocolitica antigen
Cell Communication
Platyscapa fischeri

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