Quorum sensing is a bacterial mechanism for regulating gene expression in response to changes in population density. Many bacteria are capable of acyl-homoserine lactone-based or peptide-based intraspecies quorum sensing and luxS-dependent interspecies quorum sensing. While there is good evidence about the involvement of intraspecies quorum sensing in bacterial biofilm, little is known about the role of luxS in biofilm formation. In this study, we report for the first time that luxS-dependent quorum sensing is involved in biofilm formation of Streptococcus mutans. S. mutans is a major cariogenic bacterium in the multispecies bacterial biofilm commonly known as dental plaque. An ortholog of luxS for S. mutans was identified using the data available in the S. mutans genome project (http://www.genome.ou.edu/smutans.html). Using an assay developed for the detection of the LuxS-associated quorum sensing signal autoinducer 2 (AI-2), it was demonstrated that this ortholog was able to complement the luxS negative phenotype of Escherichia coli DH5α. It was also shown that AI-2 is indeed produced by S. mutans. AI-2 production is maximal during mid- to late-log growth in batch culture. Mutant strains devoid of the luxS gene were constructed and found to be defective in producing the AI-2 signal. There are also marked phenotypic differences between the wild type and the luxS mutants. Microscopic analysis of in vitro-grown biofilm structure revealed that the luxS mutant biofilms adopted a much more granular appearance, rather than the relatively smooth, confluent layer normally seen in the wild type. These results suggest that LuxS-dependent signal may play an important role in biofilm formation of S. mutans.
The luxS/AI-2 signaling pathway has been reported to interfere with important physiological and pathogenic functions in a variety of bacteria. In the present study, we investigated the functional role of the streptococcal luxS/AI-2 system in metabolism and diverse aspects of pathogenicity including the adaptation of the organism to stress conditions using two serotypes of Streptococcus pyogenes, M1 and M19.
Exposing wild-type and isogenic luxS-deficient strains to sulfur-limited media suggested a limited role for luxS in streptococcal activated methyl cycle metabolism. Interestingly, loss of luxS led to an increased acid tolerance in both serotypes. Accordingly, luxS expression and AI-2 production were reduced at lower pH, thus linking the luxS/AI-2 system to stress adaptation in S. pyogenes. luxS expression and AI-2 production also decreased when cells were grown in RPMI medium supplemented with 10% serum, considered to be a host environment-mimicking medium. Furthermore, interaction analysis with epithelial cells and macrophages showed a clear advantage of the luxS-deficient mutants to be internalized and survive intracellularly in the host cells compared to the wild-type parents. In addition, our data revealed that luxS influences the expression of two virulence-associated factors, the fasX regulatory RNA and the virulence gene sibA (psp).
Here, we suggest that the group A streptococcal luxS/AI-2 system is not only involved in the regulation of virulence factor expression but in addition low level of luxS expression seems to provide an advantage for bacterial survival in conditions that can be encountered during infections.
Streptococcus mutans is implicated as a major etiological agent in human dental caries, and one of the important virulence properties of this organism is its ability to form biofilms (dental plaque) on tooth surfaces. We examined the role of autoinducer-2 (AI-2) on S. mutans biofilm formation by constructing a GS-5 luxS-null mutant. Biofilm formation by the luxS mutant in 0.5% sucrose defined medium was found to be markedly attenuated compared to the wild type. Scanning electron microscopy also revealed that biofilms of the luxS mutant formed larger clumps in sucrose medium compared to the parental strain. Therefore, the expression of glucosyltransferase genes was examined and the gtfB and gtfC genes, but not the gtfD gene, in the luxS mutant were upregulated in the mid-log growth phase. Furthermore, we developed a novel two-compartment system to monitor AI-2 production by oral streptococci and periodontopathic bacteria. The biofilm defect of the luxS mutant was complemented by strains of S. gordonii, S. sobrinus, and S. anginosus; however, it was not complemented by S. oralis, S. salivarius, or S. sanguinis. Biofilm formation by the luxS mutant was also complemented by Porphyromonas gingivalis 381 and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Y4 but not by a P. gingivalis luxS mutant. These results suggest that the regulation of the glucosyltransferase genes required for sucrose-dependent biofilm formation is regulated by AI-2. Furthermore, these results provide further confirmation of previous proposals that quorum sensing via AI-2 may play a significant role in oral biofilm formation.
Quorum sensing is involved in the regulation of multicellular behavior through communication via small molecules. Given the high number and diversity of the gastrointestinal microbiota, it is postulated that members of this community communicate to coordinate a variety of adaptive processes. AI-2 is suggested to be a universal bacterial signaling molecule synthesized by the LuxS enzyme, which forms an integral part of the activated methyl cycle. We have previously reported that the well-documented probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, a human isolate, produces AI-2-like molecules. In this study, we identified the luxS homologue of L. rhamnosus GG. luxS seems to be located in an operon with a yxjH gene encoding a putative cobalamin-independent methionine synthase. In silico analysis revealed a methionine-specific T box in the leader sequence of the putative yxjH-luxS operon. However, transcriptional analysis showed that luxS is expressed mainly as a monocistronic transcript. Construction of a luxS knockout mutant confirmed that the luxS gene is responsible for AI-2 production in L. rhamnosus GG. However, this mutation also resulted in pleiotropic effects on the growth of this fastidious strain. Cysteine, pantothenate, folic acid, and biotin could partially complement growth, suggesting a central metabolic role for luxS in L. rhamnosus GG. Interestingly, the luxS mutant also showed a defect in monospecies biofilm formation. Experiments with chemically synthesized (S)-4,5-dihydroxy-2,3-pentanedione, coculture with the wild type, and nutritional complementation suggested that the main cause of this defect has a metabolic nature. Moreover, our data indicate that suppressor mutations are likely to occur in luxS mutants of L. rhamnosus GG. Therefore, results of luxS-related studies should be carefully interpreted.
A biofilm is a complex community of microorganisms that develop on surfaces in diverse environments. The thickness of the biofilm plays a crucial role in the physiology of the immobilized bacteria. The most cariogenic bacteria, mutans streptococci, are common inhabitants of a dental biofilm community. In this study, DNA-microarray analysis was used to identify differentially expressed genes associated with the thickness of S. mutans biofilms.
Comparative transcriptome analyses indicated that expression of 29 genes was differentially altered in 400- vs. 100-microns depth and 39 genes in 200- vs. 100-microns biofilms. Only 10 S. mutans genes showed differential expression in both 400- vs. 100-microns and 200- vs. 100-microns biofilms. All of these genes were upregulated.
As sucrose is a predominant factor in oral biofilm development, its influence was evaluated on selected genes expression in the various depths of biofilms. The presence of sucrose did not noticeably change the regulation of these genes in 400- vs. 100-microns and/or 200- vs. 100-microns biofilms tested by real-time RT-PCR.
Furthermore, we analyzed the expression profile of selected biofilm thickness associated genes in the luxS- mutant strain. The expression of those genes was not radically changed in the mutant strain compared to wild-type bacteria in planktonic condition. Only slight downregulation was recorded in SMU.2146c, SMU.574, SMU.609, and SMU.987 genes expression in luxS- bacteria in biofilm vs. planktonic environments.
These findings reveal genes associated with the thickness of biofilms of S. mutans. Expression of these genes is apparently not regulated directly by luxS and is not necessarily influenced by the presence of sucrose in the growth media.
During infection, Streptococcus pneumoniae exists mainly in sessile biofilms rather than in planktonic form, except during sepsis. The capacity to form biofilms is believed to be important for nasopharyngeal colonization as well as disease pathogenesis, but relatively little is known about the regulation of this process. Here, we investigated the effect of exogenous iron [Fe(III)] as well as the role of luxS (encoding S-ribosylhomocysteine lyase) on biofilm formation by S. pneumoniae D39. Fe(III) strongly enhanced biofilm formation at concentrations of ≥50 μM, while Fe(III) chelation with deferoxamine was inhibitory. Importantly, Fe(III) also upregulated the expression of luxS in wild-type D39. A luxS-deficient mutant (D39luxS) failed to form a biofilm, even with Fe(III) supplementation, whereas a derivative overexpressing luxS (D39luxS+) exhibited enhanced biofilm formation capacity and could form a biofilm without added Fe(III). D39luxS exhibited reduced expression of the major Fe(III) transporter PiuA, and the cellular [Fe(III)] was significantly lower than that in D39; in contrast, D39luxS+ had a significantly higher cellular [Fe(III)] than the wild type. The release of extracellular DNA, which is an important component of the biofilm matrix, also was directly related to luxS expression. Similarly, genetic competence, as measured by transformation frequency as well as the expression of competence genes comD, comX, comW, cglA, and dltA and the murein hydrolase cbpD, which is associated with fratricide-dependent DNA release, all were directly related to luxS expression levels and were further upregulated by Fe(III). Moreover, mutagenesis of cbpD blocked biofilm formation. We propose that competence, fratricide, and biofilm formation are closely linked in pneumococci, and that luxS is a central regulator of these processes. We also propose that the stimulatory effects of Fe(III) on all of these parameters are due to the upregulation of luxS expression, and that LuxS provides for a positive Fe(III)-dependent amplification loop by increasing iron uptake.
LuxS/AI-2 quorum sensing (QS) system involves the production of cell signaling molecules via luxS-based autoinducer-2 (AI-2). LuxS has been reported to plays critical roles in regulating various behaviors of bacteria. AI-2 is a byproduct of the catabolism of S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) performed by the LuxS and Pfs enzymes. In our previous study, the function of LuxS in AI-2 production was verified in Streptococcus suis (SS). Decreased levels of SS biofilm formation and host-cell adherence as well as an inability to produce AI-2 were observed in bacteria having a luxS mutant gene. In this study, the level of AI-2 activity exhibits a growth-phase dependence with a maximum in late exponential culture in SS. An SS strain that overexpressed luxS was constructed to comprehensively understand the function of AI-2. Overexpressed luxS was not able to increase the level of pfs expression and produce additional AI-2, and the bacteria were slower growing and produced only slightly more biofilm than the wild type. Thus, AI-2 production is not correlated with luxS transcription. luxS expression is constitutive, but the transcription of pfs is perhaps correlated with AI-2 production in SS.
In a previous study, we demonstrated that Vibrio scophthalmi, the most abundant Vibrio species among the marine aerobic or facultatively anaerobic bacteria inhabiting the intestinal tract of healthy cultured turbot (Scophthalmus maximus), contains at least two quorum-sensing circuits involving two types of signal molecules (a 3-hydroxy-dodecanoyl-homoserine lactone and the universal autoinducer 2 encoded by luxS). The purpose of this study was to investigate the functions regulated by these quorum sensing circuits in this vibrio by constructing mutants for the genes involved in these circuits.
The presence of a homologue to the Vibrio harveyi luxR gene encoding a main transcriptional regulator, whose expression is modulated by quorum–sensing signal molecules in other vibrios, was detected and sequenced. The V. scophthalmi LuxR protein displayed a maximum amino acid identity of 82% with SmcR, the LuxR homologue found in Vibrio vulnificus. luxR and luxS null mutants were constructed and their phenotype analysed. Both mutants displayed reduced biofilm formation in vitro as well as differences in membrane protein expression by mass-spectrometry analysis. Additionally, a recombinant strain of V. scophthalmi carrying the lactonase AiiA from Bacillus cereus, which causes hydrolysis of acyl homoserine lactones, was included in the study.
V. scophthalmi shares two quorum sensing circuits, including the main transcriptional regulator luxR, with some pathogenic vibrios such as V. harveyi and V. anguillarum. However, contrary to these pathogenic vibrios no virulence factors (such as protease production) were found to be quorum sensing regulated in this bacterium. Noteworthy, biofilm formation was altered in luxS and luxR mutants. In these mutants a different expression profile of membrane proteins were observed with respect to the wild type strain suggesting that quorum sensing could play a role in the regulation of the adhesion mechanisms of this bacterium.
Vibrio scophthalmi; Biofilm formation; Quorum-sensing; AiiA; LuxS; Acyl homoserine lactone
Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of death in children worldwide and forms highly organized biofilms in the nasopharynx, lungs, and middle ear mucosa. The luxS-controlled quorum-sensing (QS) system has recently been implicated in virulence and persistence in the nasopharynx, but its role in biofilms has not been studied. Here we show that this QS system plays a major role in the control of S. pneumoniae biofilm formation. Our results demonstrate that the luxS gene is contained by invasive isolates and normal-flora strains in a region that contains genes involved in division and cell wall biosynthesis. The luxS gene was maximally transcribed, as a monocistronic message, in the early mid-log phase of growth, and this coincides with the appearance of early biofilms. Demonstrating the role of the LuxS system in regulating S. pneumoniae biofilms, at 24 h postinoculation, two different D39ΔluxS mutants produced ∼80% less biofilm biomass than wild-type (WT) strain D39 did. Complementation of these strains with luxS, either in a plasmid or integrated as a single copy in the genome, restored their biofilm level to that of the WT. Moreover, a soluble factor secreted by WT strain D39 or purified AI-2 restored the biofilm phenotype of D39ΔluxS. Our results also demonstrate that during the early mid-log phase of growth, LuxS regulates the transcript levels of lytA, which encodes an autolysin previously implicated in biofilms, and also the transcript levels of ply, which encodes the pneumococcal pneumolysin. In conclusion, the luxS-controlled QS system is a key regulator of early biofilm formation by S. pneumoniae strain D39.
The luxS gene in Shewanella oneidensis was shown to encode an autoinducer-2 (AI-2)-like molecule, the postulated universal bacterial signal, but the impaired biofilm growth of a luxS deficient mutant could not be restored by AI-2, indicating it might not have a signalling role in this organism.
Here, we provide further evidence regarding the metabolic role of a luxS mutation in S. oneidensis. We constructed a luxS mutant and compared its phenotype to a wild type control with respect to its ability to remove AI-2 from the medium, expression of secreted proteins and biofilm formation. We show that S. oneidensis has a cell-dependent mechanism by which AI-2 is depleted from the medium by uptake or degradation at the end of the exponential growth phase. As AI-2 depletion is equally active in the luxS mutant and thus does not require AI-2 as an inducer, it appears to be an unspecific mechanism suggesting that AI-2 for S. oneidensis is a metabolite which is imported under nutrient limitation. Secreted proteins were studied by iTraq labelling and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) detection. Differences between wild type and mutant were small. Proteins related to flagellar and twitching motility were slightly up-regulated in the luxS mutant, in accordance with its loose biofilm structure. An enzyme related to cysteine metabolism was also up-regulated, probably compensating for the lack of the LuxS enzyme. The luxS mutant developed an undifferentiated, loosely-connected biofilm which covered the glass surface more homogenously than the wild type control, which formed compact aggregates with large voids in between.
The data confirm the role of the LuxS enzyme for biofilm growth in S. oneidensis and make it unlikely that AI-2 has a signalling role in this organism.
quorum sensing; autoinducer-2; Shewanella oneidensis; luxS; biofilm; secretome
Autoinducer 2 (AI-2) is the only species-nonspecific autoinducer known in bacteria and is produced by both gram-negative and gram-positive organisms. Consequently, it is proposed to function as a universal quorum-sensing signal for interaction between bacterial species. AI-2 is produced as the by-product of a metabolic transformation carried out by the LuxS enzyme. To separate the metabolic function of the LuxS enzyme from the signaling role of AI-2, we carried out a global transcriptome analysis of a luxS null mutant culture of Streptococcus mutans UA159, an important cariogenic bacterium and a crucial component of the dental plaque biofilm community, in comparison to a luxS null mutant culture supplemented with chemically pure 4,5-dihydroxy-2,3-pentanedione, the precursor of AI-2. The data revealed fundamental changes in gene expression affecting 585 genes (30% of the genome) which could not be restored by the signal molecule AI-2 and are therefore not caused by quorum sensing but by lack of the transformation carried out by the LuxS enzyme in the activated methyl cycle. All functional classes of enzymes were affected, including genes known to be important for biofilm formation, bacteriocin synthesis, competence, and acid tolerance. At the same time, 59 genes were identified whose transcription clearly responded to the addition of AI-2. Some of them were related to protein synthesis, stress, and cell division. Three membrane transport proteins were upregulated which are not related to any of the known AI-2 transporters. Three transcription factors were identified whose transcription was stimulated repeatedly by AI-2 addition during growth. Finally, a global regulatory protein, the δ subunit of the RNA polymerase (rpoE), was induced 147-fold by AI-2, representing the largest differential gene expression observed. The data show that many phenotypes related to the luxS mutation cannot be ascribed to quorum sensing and have identified for the first time regulatory proteins potentially mediating AI-2-based signaling in gram-positive bacteria.
Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus oralis are among the first bacterial species to colonize clean tooth surfaces. Both produce autoinducer-2 (AI-2): a family of inter-convertible cell–cell signal molecules synthesized by the LuxS enzyme. The overall aim of this work was to determine whether AI-2 alters interspecies interactions between S. gordonii DL1 and S. oralis 34 within dual-species biofilms in flowing human saliva. Based upon AI-2 bioluminescence assays, S. gordonii DL1 produced more AI-2 activity than S. oralis 34 in batch culture, and both were able to remove AI-2 activity from solution. In single-species, saliva-fed flowcell systems, S. oralis 34 formed scant biofilms that were similar to the luxS mutant. Conversely, S. gordonii DL1 formed confluent biofilms while the luxS mutant formed architecturally distinct biofilms that possessed twofold greater biovolume than the wild-type. Supplementing saliva with 0.1–10 nM chemically synthesized AI-2 (csAI-2) restored the S. gordonii DL1 luxS biofilm phenotype to that which was similar to the wild-type; above or below this concentration range, biofilms were architecturally similar to that formed by the luxS mutant. In dual-species biofilms, S. gordonii DL1 was always more abundant than S. oralis 34. Compared with dual-species, wild-type biofilms, the biovolume occupied by S. oralis 34 was reduced by greater than sevenfold when neither species produced AI-2. The addition of 1 nM csAI-2 to the dual-species luxS–luxS mutant biofilms re-established the biofilm phenotype to resemble that of the wild-type pair. Thus, this work demonstrates that AI-2 can alter the biofilm structure and composition of pioneering oral streptococcal biofilms. This may influence the subsequent succession of other species into oral biofilms and the ecology of dental plaque.
Communication based on autoinducer 2 (AI-2) is widespread among gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, and the AI-2 pathway can control the expression of genes involved in a variety of metabolic pathways and pathogenic mechanisms. In the present study, we identified luxS, a gene responsible for the synthesis of AI-2, in Streptococcus gordonii, a major component of the dental plaque biofilm. S. gordonii conditioned medium induced bioluminescence in an AI-2 reporter strain of Vibrio harveyi. An isogenic mutant of S. gordonii, generated by insertional inactivation of the luxS gene, was unaffected in growth and in its ability to form biofilms on polystyrene surfaces. In contrast, the mutant strain failed to induce bioluminescence in V. harveyi and was unable to form a mixed species biofilm with a LuxS-null strain of the periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis. Complementation of the luxS mutation in S. gordonii restored normal biofilm formation with the luxS-deficient P. gingivalis. Differential display PCR demonstrated that the inactivation of S. gordonii luxS downregulated the expression of a number of genes, including gtfG, encoding glucosyltransferase; fruA, encoding extracellular exo-β-d-fructosidase; and lacD encoding tagatose 1,6-diphosphate aldolase. However, S. gordonii cell surface expression of SspA and SspB proteins, previously implicated in mediating adhesion between S. gordonii and P. gingivalis, was unaffected by inactivation of luxS. The results suggest that S. gordonii produces an AI-2-like signaling molecule that regulates aspects of carbohydrate metabolism in the organism. Furthermore, LuxS-dependent intercellular communication is essential for biofilm formation between nongrowing cells of P. gingivalis and S. gordonii.
Bacteria utilize quorum-sensing communication to organize their behavior by monitoring the concentration of bacterial signals, referred to as autoinducers (AIs). The widespread detection of AI-2 signals and its enzymatic synthase (LuxS) in bacteria suggests that AI-2 is an inter- and intraspecies communication signal. We have previously shown that antibiotic susceptibility is affected by AI-2 signaling in Streptococcus anginosus. Since chronic infections involve persistent biofilms resilient to antibiotic treatment, we explored the role of AI-2/LuxS in Streptococcus intermedius biofilm formation and cell viability when the organism was exposed to sub-MICs of ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, or tetracycline. The S. intermedius wild type (WT) and its isogenic luxS mutant, strain SI006, were exposed to sub-MICs of ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, or tetracycline. Biofilms were formed on polystyrene discs in microtiter plates. To assess planktonic cell viability, the ATP microbial viability assay was performed and the numbers of CFU were determined. For complementation assays, the AI-2 precursor dihydroxy pentanedione (DPD) was used as a supplement for SI006. Relative luxS expression was quantified by real-time PCR. The sub-MICs of all three antibiotics increased biofilm formation in S. intermedius WT. However, biofilm formation by SI006 was either unaffected or reduced (P ≤ 0.05). Bacterial viability tests of biofilm and planktonic cell cultures indicated that SI006 was more susceptible to antibiotics than the WT. DPD complemented the luxS mutant phenotype. Real-time PCR revealed modest yet significant changes in luxS expression in the presence of antibiotic concentrations that increased biofilm formation. In conclusion, in S. intermedius, AI-2/LuxS was involved in antibiotic susceptibility and increased biofilm formation at sub-MICs of antibiotic.
The function of AI-2 in many bacteria and the physiological role of LuxS, the enzyme responsible for its production, remain matters of debate. Here, we show that in Staphylococcus aureus the luxS gene forms a monocistronic transcriptional unit under the control of a σ70-dependent promoter. The gene was transcribed throughout growth under a variety of conditions, including intracellular growth in MAC-T cells. AI-2 was produced in rich media under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, peaking during the transition to stationary phase, but was hardly detectable in a sulfur-limited defined medium. In the presence of glucose or under anaerobic conditions, cultures retained considerable AI-2 activity after entry into stationary phase. Inactivation of luxS in various S. aureus strains did not affect virulence-associated traits, such as production of hemolysins and extracellular proteases, biofilm formation, and the agr signaling system. Conversely, AI-2 production remained unchanged in an agr mutant. However, luxS mutants grown in a sulfur-limited defined medium exhibited a growth defect. When grown together with the wild type in mixed culture, luxS mutants of various S. aureus strains showed reduced ability to compete for growth under these conditions. In contrast, a complemented luxS mutant grew as well as the parent strain, suggesting that the observed growth defect was of an intracellular nature and had not been caused by either second-site mutations or the lack of a diffusible factor. However, the LuxS/AI-2 system does not appear to contribute to the overall fitness of S. aureus RN6390B during intracellular growth in epithelial cells: the wild type and a luxS mutant showed very similar growth patterns after their internalization by MAC-T cells.
Recently, high-coverage genome sequence of 57 isolates of Streptococcus mutans, the primary etiological agent of human dental caries, was completed. The SMU.1147 gene, encoding a 61-amino-acid (61-aa) peptide, was present in all sequenced strains of S. mutans but absent in all bacteria in current databases. Reverse transcription-PCR revealed that SMU.1147 is cotranscribed with scnK and scnR, which encode the histidine kinase and response regulator, respectively, of a two-component system (TCS). The C terminus of the SMU.1147 gene product was tagged with a FLAG epitope and shown to be expressed in S. mutans by Western blotting with an anti-FLAG antibody. A nonpolar mutant of SMU.1147 formed less biofilm in glucose-containing medium and grew slower than did the wild-type strain under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, at low pH, or in the presence of H2O2. Mutation of SMU.1147 dramatically reduced genetic competence and expression of comX and comY, compared to S. mutans UA159. The competence defect of the SMU.1147 mutant could not be overcome by addition of sigX-inducing peptide (XIP) in defined medium or by competence-stimulating peptide (CSP) in complex medium. Complementation with SMU.1147 on a plasmid restored all phenotypes. Interestingly, mutants lacking either one of the TCS components and a mutant lacking all three genes behaved like the wild-type strain for all phenotypes mentioned above, but all mutant strains grew slower than UA159 in medium supplemented with 0.3 M NaCl. Thus, the SMU.1147-encoded peptide affects virulence-related traits and dominantly controls quorum-sensing pathways for development of genetic competence in S. mutans.
The gram-positive pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes was recently reported to possess a homologue of the luxS gene that is responsible for the production of autoinducer 2, which participates in quorum sensing of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. To test the effect of LuxS on streptococcal internalization, a LuxS mutant was constructed in strain SP268, an invasive M3 serotype. Functional analysis of the mutant revealed that it was internalized by HEp-2 cells with higher efficiency than the wild type (wt). Several genes, including hasA (hyaluronic acid synthesis), speB (streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B), and csrR (capsule synthesis regulator), a part of a two-component regulatory system, are known to affect the internalization of strain SP268 (J. Jadoun, O. Eyal, and S. Sela, Infect. Immun. 70:462-469, 2002). Therefore, the expression of these genes in the mutant and in the wt was examined. LuxS mutation significantly reduced the mRNA level of speB and increased the mRNA level of emm3. No substantial effect was observed on transcription of hasA and csrR. Yet less hyaluronic acid capsule was expressed in the mutant. Further analysis revealed that luxS is under the regulation of the two-component global regulator CsrR. Our results indicate that LuxS activity in strain SP268 plays an important role in the expression of virulence factors associated with epithelial cell internalization.
Vibrio fischeri possesses two acyl-homoserine lactone quorum-sensing systems, ain and lux, both of which are involved in the regulation of luminescence gene expression and are required for persistent colonization of the squid host, Euprymna scolopes. We have previously demonstrated that the ain system induces luminescence at cell densities that precede lux system activation. Our data suggested that the ain system both relieves repression and initially induces the lux system, thereby achieving sequential induction of gene expression by these two systems. Analysis of the V. fischeri genome revealed the presence of a putative third system based on the enzyme LuxS, which catalyzes the synthesis of the Vibrio harveyi autoinducer 2 (AI-2). In this study, we investigated the impact of V. fischeri LuxS on luminescence and colonization competence in comparison to that of the ain system. Similar to the ain system, inactivation of the AI-2 system decreased light production in culture, but not in the squid host. However, while an ainS mutant produces no detectable light in culture, a luxS mutant expressed approximately 70% of wild-type luminescence levels. A mutation in luxS alone did not compromise symbiotic competence of V. fischeri; however, levels of colonization of an ainS luxS double mutant were reduced to 50% of the already diminished level of ainS mutant colonization, suggesting that these two systems regulate colonization gene expression synergistically through a common pathway. Introduction of a luxO mutation into the luxS and ainS luxS background could relieve both luminescence and colonization defects, consistent with a model in which LuxS, like AinS, regulates gene expression through LuxO. Furthermore, while luxS transcription appeared to be constitutive and the AI-2 signal concentration did not change dramatically, our data suggest that ainS transcription is autoregulated, resulting in an over 2,000-fold increase in signal concentration as culture density increased. Taken together, these data indicate that V. fischeri LuxS affects both luminescence regulation and colonization competence; however, its quantitative contribution is small when compared to that of the AinS signal.
Nosocomial infections caused by Staphylococcus epidermidis are characterized by biofilm formation on implanted medical devices. Quorum-sensing regulation plays a major role in the biofilm development of many bacterial pathogens. Here, we describe luxS, a quorum-sensing system in staphylococci that has a significant impact on biofilm development and virulence. We constructed an isogenic ΔluxS mutant strain of a biofilm-forming clinical isolate of S. epidermidis and demonstrated that luxS signaling is functional in S. epidermidis. The mutant strain showed increased biofilm formation in vitro and enhanced virulence in a rat model of biofilm-associated infection. Genetic complementation and addition of autoinducer 2-containing culture filtrate restored the wild-type phenotype, demonstrating that luxS repressed biofilm formation through a cell-cell signaling mechanism based on autoinducer 2 secretion. Enhanced production of the biofilm exopolysaccharide polysaccharide intercellular adhesin in the mutant strain is presumably the major cause of the observed phenotype. The agr quorum-sensing system has previously been shown to impact biofilm development and biofilm-associated infection in a way similar to that of luxS, although by regulation of different factors. Our study indicates a general scheme of quorum-sensing regulation of biofilm development in staphylococci, which contrasts with that observed in many other bacterial pathogens.
The periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis employs a variety of mechanisms for the uptake of hemin and inorganic iron. Previous work demonstrated that hemin uptake in P. gingivalis may be controlled by LuxS-mediated signaling. In the present study, the expression of genes involved in hemin and iron uptake was determined in parent and luxS mutant strains by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR. Compared to the parental strain, the luxS mutant showed reduced levels of transcription of genes coding for the TonB-linked hemin binding protein Tlr and the lysine-specific protease Kgp, which can degrade host heme-containing proteins. In contrast, there was up-regulation of the genes for another TonB-linked hemin binding protein, HmuR; a hemin binding lipoprotein, FetB; a Fe2+ ion transport protein, FeoB1; and the iron storage protein ferritin. Differential expression of these genes in the luxS mutant was maximal in early-exponential phase, which corresponded with peak expression of luxS and AI-2 signal activity. Complementation of the luxS mutation with wild-type luxS in trans rescued expression of hmuR. Mutation of the GppX two-component signal transduction pathway caused an increase in expression of luxS along with tlr and lower levels of message for hmuR. Moreover, expression of hmuR was repressed, and expression of tlr stimulated, when the luxS mutant was incubated with AI-2 partially purified from the culture supernatant of wild-type cells. A phenotypic outcome of the altered expression of genes involved in hemin uptake was impairment of growth of the luxS mutant in hemin-depleted medium. The results demonstrate a role of LuxS/AI-2 in the regulation of hemin and iron acquisition pathways in P. gingivalis and reveal a novel control pathway for luxS expression.
We previously reported that LuxS in Streptococcus mutans is involved in stress tolerance and biofilm formation. In this study, flowcells and confocal laser scanning microscopy were used to further examine the effects of LuxS-deficiency on biofilm formation. Similar to the wild-type strain (UA159), a strain deficient in LuxS (TW26D) bound efficiently to the flowcells and formed microcolonies 4 h after inoculation. Unlike UA159, which accumulated and formed compact, evenly distributed biofilms after 28 h, TW26D showed only loose, sporadic, thin biofilms. DNA microarray analysis revealed alterations in transcription of more than 60 genes in TW26D biofilms by at least 1.5-fold (P < 0.001). Among the upregulated genes were those for sugar-specific enzymes II of the phosphotransferase (PTS) system and the atp operon, which codes for the proton-pumping F-ATPase. Of the downregulated genes, several encode proteins with putative functions in DNA repair. Mutation of selected genes caused severe defects in the ability of the mutants to tolerate low pH and oxidative stress. These results provide additional proof that LuxS-deficiency causes global alterations in the expression of genes central to biofilm formation and virulence of S. mutans, including those involved in energy metabolism, DNA repair and stress tolerance.
biofilms; dental caries; DNA array analysis; quorum sensing; Streptococcus mutans
The role of LuxS in Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 has been examined by transcriptomic profiling, biochemical, and physiological experiments. The results indicate that a mutation in luxS alters biofilm development, not by altering quorum-sensing abilities but by disrupting the activated methyl cycle (AMC). The S. oneidensis wild type can produce a luminescence response in the AI-2 reporter strain Vibrio harveyi MM32. This luminescence response is abolished upon the deletion of luxS. The deletion of luxS also alters biofilm formations in static and flowthrough conditions. Genetic complementation restores the mutant biofilm defect, but the addition of synthetic AI-2 has no effect. These results suggest that AI-2 is not used as a quorum-sensing signal to regulate biofilm development in S. oneidensis. Growth on various sulfur sources was examined because of the involvement of LuxS in the AMC. A mutation in luxS produced a reduced ability to grow with methionine as the sole sulfur source. Methionine is a key metabolite used in the AMC to produce a methyl source in the cell and to recycle homocysteine. These data suggest that LuxS is important to metabolizing methionine and the AMC in S. oneidensis.
The enteric pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium uses autoinducer-2 (AI-2) as a signaling molecule. AI-2 requires the luxS gene for its synthesis. The regulation of global gene expression in Salmonella Typhimurium by luxS/AI-2 is currently not known; therefore, the focus of this study was to elucidate the global gene expression patterns in Salmonella Typhimurium as regulated by luxS/AI-2. The genes controlled by luxS/AI-2 were identified using microarrays with RNA samples from wild-type (WT) Salmonella Typhimurium and its isogenic ΔluxS mutant, in two growth conditions (presence and absence of glucose) at mid-log and early stationary phases. The results indicate that luxS/AI-2 has very different effects in Salmonella Typhimurium depending on the stage of cell growth and the levels of glucose. Genes with p ≤ 0.05 were considered to be significantly expressed differentially between WT and ΔluxS mutant. In the mid-log phase of growth, AI-2 activity was higher (1500-fold) in the presence of glucose than in its absence (450-fold). There was differential gene expression of 13 genes between the WT and its isogenic ΔluxS mutant in the presence of glucose and 547 genes in its absence. In early stationary phase, AI-2 activity was higher (650-fold) in the presence of glucose than in its absence (1.5-fold). In the presence of glucose, 16 genes were differentially expressed, and in its absence, 60 genes were differentially expressed. Our microarray study indicates that both luxS and AI-2 could play a vital role in several cellular processes including metabolism, biofilm formation, transcription, translation, transport, and binding proteins, signal transduction, and regulatory functions in addition to previously identified functions. Phenotypic analysis of ΔluxS mutant confirmed the microarray results and revealed that luxS did not influence growth but played a role in the biofilm formation and motility.
Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 is responsible for outbreaks of bloody diarrhea and hemolytic-uremic syndrome in many countries. EHEC virulence mechanisms include the production of Shiga toxins (Stx) and formation of attaching and effacing (AE) lesions on intestinal epithelial cells. We recently reported that genes involved in the formation of the AE lesion were regulated by quorum sensing through autoinducer-2, which is synthesized by the product of the luxS gene. In this study we hybridized an E. coli gene array with cDNA synthesized from RNA that was extracted from EHEC strain 86-24 and its isogenic luxS mutant. We observed that 404 genes were regulated by luxS at least fivefold, which comprises approximately 10% of the array genes; 235 of these genes were up-regulated and 169 were down-regulated in the wild-type strain compared to in the luxS mutant. Down-regulated genes included several involved in cell division, as well as ribosomal and tRNA genes. Consistent with this pattern of gene expression, the luxS mutant grows faster than the wild-type strain (generation times of 37.5 and 60 min, respectively, in Dulbecco modified Eagle medium). Up-regulated genes included several involved in the expression and assembly of flagella, motility, and chemotaxis. Using operon::lacZ fusions to class I, II, and III flagellar genes, we were able to confirm this transcriptional regulation. We also observed fewer flagella by Western blotting and electron microscopy and decreased motility halos in semisolid agar in the luxS mutant. The average swimming speeds for the wild-type strain and the luxS mutant are 12.5 and 6.6 μm/s, respectively. We also observed an increase in the production of Stx due to quorum sensing. Genes encoding Stx, which are transcribed along with λ-like phage genes, are induced by an SOS response, and genes involved in the SOS response were also regulated by quorum sensing. These results indicate that quorum sensing is a global regulatory mechanism for basic physiological functions of E. coli as well as for virulence factors.
LuxS is the synthase enzyme of the quorum sensing signal AI-2. In Salmonella Typhimurium, it was previously shown that a luxS deletion mutant is impaired in biofilm formation. However, this phenotype could not be complemented by extracellular addition of quorum sensing signal molecules.
Analysis of additional S. Typhimurium luxS mutants indicated that the LuxS enzyme itself is not a prerequisite for a wild type mature biofilm. However, in close proximity of the luxS coding sequence, a small RNA molecule, MicA, is encoded on the opposite DNA strand. Interference with the MicA expression level showed that a balanced MicA level is essential for mature Salmonella biofilm formation. Several MicA targets known to date have previously been reported to be implicated in biofilm formation in Salmonella or in other bacterial species. Additionally, we showed by RT-qPCR analysis that MicA levels are indeed altered in some luxS mutants, corresponding to their biofilm formation phenotype.
We show that the S. Typhimurium biofilm formation phenotype of a luxS mutant in which the complete coding region is deleted, is dependent on the sRNA molecule MicA, encoded in the luxS adjacent genomic region, rather than on LuxS itself. Future studies are required to fully elucidate the role of MicA in Salmonella biofilm formation.