Diverse gram-negative bacterial cells communicate with each other by using diffusible N-acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) signal molecules to coordinate gene expression with cell population density. Accumulation of AHLs above a threshold concentration renders the population “quorate,” and the appropriate target gene is activated. In pathogenic bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, AHL-mediated quorum sensing is involved in the regulation of multiple virulence determinants. We therefore sought to determine whether the immune system is capable of responding to these bacterial signal molecules. Consequently the immunomodulatory properties of the AHLs N-(3-oxododecanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (OdDHL) and N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (OHHL) were evaluated in murine and human leukocyte immunoassays in vitro. OdDHL, but not OHHL, inhibited lymphocyte proliferation and tumor necrosis factor alpha production by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophages. Furthermore, OdDHL simultaneously and potently down-regulated the production of IL-12, a Th-1-supportive cytokine. At high concentrations (>7 × 10−5 M) OdDHL inhibited antibody production by keyhole limpet hemocyanin-stimulated spleen cells, but at lower concentrations (<7 × 10−5 M), antibody production was stimulated, apparently by increasing the proportion of the immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) isotype. OdDHL also promoted IgE production by interleukin-4-stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These data indicate that OdDHL may influence the Th-1–Th-2 balance in the infected host and suggest that, in addition to regulating the expression of virulence determinants, OdDHL may contribute to the pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa infections by functioning as a virulence determinant per se.
In gram-negative bacterial pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, cell-to-cell communication via the N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) signal molecules is involved in the cell population density-dependent control of genes associated with virulence. This phenomenon, termed quorum sensing, relies upon the accumulation of AHLs to a threshold concentration at which target structural genes are activated. By using biosensors capable of detecting a range of AHLs we observed that, in cultures of Y. pseudotuberculosis and P. aeruginosa, AHLs accumulate during the exponential phase but largely disappear during the stationary phase. When added to late-stationary-phase, cell-free culture supernatants of the respective pathogen, the major P. aeruginosa [N-butanoylhomoserine lactone (C4-HSL) and N-(3-oxododecanoyl)homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL)] and Y. pseudotuberculosis [N-(3-oxohexanoyl)homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL) and N-hexanoylhomoserine lactone (C6-HSL)] AHLs were inactivated. Short-acyl-chain compounds (e.g., C4-HSL) were turned over more extensively than long-chain molecules (e.g., 3-oxo-C12-HSL). Little AHL inactivation occurred with cell extracts, and no evidence for inactivation by specific enzymes was apparent. This AHL turnover was discovered to be due to pH-dependent lactonolysis. By acidifying the growth media to pH 2.0, lactonolysis could be reversed. By using carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, we found that the ring opening of homoserine lactone (HSL), N-propionyl HSL (C3-HSL), and C4-HSL increased as pH increased but diminished as the N-acyl chain was lengthened. At low pH levels, the lactone rings closed but not via a simple reversal of the ring opening reaction mechanism. Ring opening of C4-HSL, C6-HSL, 3-oxo-C6-HSL, and N-octanoylhomoserine lactone (C8-HSL), as determined by the reduction of pH in aqueous solutions with time, was also less rapid for AHLs with more electron-donating longer side chains. Raising the temperature from 22 to 37°C increased the rate of ring opening. Taken together, these data show that (i) to be functional under physiological conditions in mammalian tissue fluids, AHLs require an N-acyl side chain of at least four carbons in length and (ii) that the longer the acyl side chain the more stable the AHL signal molecule.
In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the expression of a number of virulence factors, as well as biofilm formation, are controlled by quorum sensing (QS). N-Acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) are an important class of signaling molecules involved in bacterial QS and in many pathogenic bacteria infection and host colonization are AHL-dependent. The AHL signaling molecules are subject to inactivation mainly by hydrolases (Enzyme Commission class number EC 3) (i.e. N-acyl-homoserine lactonases and N-acyl-homoserine-lactone acylases). Only little is known on quorum quenching mechanisms of oxidoreductases (EC 1). Here we report on the identification and structural characterization of the first NADP-dependent short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) involved in inactivation of N-(3-oxo-dodecanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL) and derived from a metagenome library. The corresponding gene was isolated from a soil metagenome and designated bpiB09. Heterologous expression and crystallographic studies established BpiB09 as an NADP-dependent reductase. Although AHLs are probably not the native substrate of this metagenome-derived enzyme, its expression in P. aeruginosa PAO1 resulted in significantly reduced pyocyanin production, decreased motility, poor biofilm formation and absent paralysis of Caenorhabditis elegans. Furthermore, a genome-wide transcriptome study suggested that the level of lasI and rhlI transcription together with 36 well known QS regulated genes was significantly (≥10-fold) affected in P. aeruginosa strains expressing the bpiB09 gene in pBBR1MCS-5. Thus AHL oxidoreductases could be considered as potent tools for the development of quorum quenching strategies.
Prophage typically are induced to a lytic cycle under stressful environmental conditions or when the host's survival is threatened. However, stress-independent, spontaneous induction also occurs in nature and may be cell density dependent, but the in vivo signal(s) that can trigger induction is unknown. In the present study, we report that acyl-homoserine lactones (AHL), the essential signaling molecules of quorum sensing in many gram-negative bacteria, can trigger phage production in soil and groundwater bacteria. This phenomenon also was operative in a λ lysogen of Escherichia coli. In model coculture systems, we monitored the real-time AHL production from Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 using an AHL bioluminescent sensor and demonstrated that λ-prophage induction in E. coli was correlated with AHL production. As a working model in E. coli, we show that the induction responses of λ with AHL remained unaffected when recA was deleted, suggesting that this mechanism does not involve an SOS response. In the same λ lysogen we also demonstrated that sdiA, the AHL receptor, and rcsA, a positive transcriptional regulator of exopolysaccharide synthesis, are involved in the AHL-mediated induction process. These findings relate viral reproduction to chemical signals associated with high host cell abundance, suggesting an alternative paradigm for prophage induction.
Virulent factors produced by pathogens play an important role in the infectious process, which is regulated by a cell-to-cell communication mechanism called quorum sensing (QS). Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important opportunistic human pathogen, which causes infections in patients with compromised immune systems and cystic fibrosis. The QS systems of P. aeruginosa use N-acylated homoserine lactone (AHL) as signal molecules. Previously we have demonstrated that Panax ginseng treatment allowed the animals with P. aeruginosa pneumonia to effectively clear the bacterial infection. We postulated that the ability to impact the outcome of infections is partly due to ginseng having direct effect on the production of P. aeruginosa virulence factors. The study explores the effect of ginseng on alginate, protease and AHL production. The effect of ginseng extracts on growth and expression of quorum-sensing (QS)-controlled virulence factors on the prototypic P. aeruginosa PAO1 and its isogenic mucoid variant (PAOmucA22 or PDO300) was determined. Ginseng did not inhibit the growth of the bacteria, enhanced the extracellular protein production and stimulated the production of alginate. However, ginseng suppressed the production of LasA and LasB and down-regulated the synthesis of the AHL molecules. Ginseng has a negative effect on the QS system of P. aeruginosa, which might be part of the mechanisms that ginseng helped the bacterial clearance from the animal lungs in vivo in our previous animal study. It is possible that enhancing and repressing activities of ginseng are mutually exclusive as it is a complex mixture, as shown with the HPLC anaylsis of the hot water extract of ginseng that was performed in this study. Though ginseng is a promising natural synergetic remedy, it is important to isolate and evaluate the ginseng compounds associated with the anti-QS activity.
Ginseng; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; anti-quorum sensing; LasA; LasB; Alginate
Sinorhizobium meliloti is a free-living soil bacterium which is capable of establishing a symbiotic relationship with the alfalfa plant (Medicago sativa). This symbiosis involves a network of bacterium-host signaling, as well as the potential for bacterium-bacterium communication, such as quorum sensing. In this study, we characterized the production of N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) by two commonly used S. meliloti strains, AK631 and Rm1021. We found that AK631 produces at least nine different AHLs, while Rm1021 produces only a subset of these molecules. To address the difference in AHL patterns between the strains, we developed a novel screening method to identify the genes affecting AHL synthesis. With this screening method, chromosomal groEL (groELc) was shown to be required for synthesis of the AHLs that are unique to AK631 but not for synthesis of the AHLs that are made by both AK631 and Rm1021. We then used the screening procedure to identify a mutation in a gene homologous to traM of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which was able to suppress the phenotype of the groELc mutation. A traR homolog was identified immediately upstream of traM, and we propose that its gene product requires a functional groELc for activity and is also responsible for inducing the synthesis of the AHLs that are unique to AK631. We show that the traR/traM locus is part of a quorum-sensing system unique to AK631 and propose that this locus is involved in regulating conjugal plasmid transfer. We also present evidence for the existence of a second quorum-sensing system, sinR/sinI, which is present in both AK631 and Rm1021.
The virulence of the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 is controlled by an N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL)-dependent quorum-sensing system. During functional analysis of putative acylase genes in the P. aeruginosa PAO1 genome, the PA2385 gene was found to encode an acylase that removes the fatty acid side chain from the homoserine lactone (HSL) nucleus of AHL-dependent quorum-sensing signal molecules. Analysis showed that the posttranslational processing of the acylase and the hydrolysis reaction type are similar to those of the beta-lactam acylases, strongly suggesting that the PA2385 protein is a member of the N-terminal nucleophile hydrolase superfamily. In a bioassay, the purified acylase was shown to degrade AHLs with side chains ranging in length from 11 to 14 carbons at physiologically relevant low concentrations. The substituent at the 3′ position of the side chain did not affect activity, indicating broad-range AHL quorum-quenching activity. Of the two main AHL signal molecules of P. aeruginosa PAO1, N-butanoyl-l-homoserine lactone (C4-HSL) and N-(3-oxododecanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL), only 3-oxo-C12-HSL is degraded by the enzyme. Addition of the purified protein to P. aeruginosa PAO1 cultures completely inhibited accumulation of 3-oxo-C12-HSL and production of the signal molecule 2-heptyl-3-hydroxy-4(1H)-quinolone and reduced production of the virulence factors elastase and pyocyanin. Similar results were obtained when the PA2385 gene was overexpressed in P. aeruginosa. These results demonstrate that the protein has in situ quorum-quenching activity. The quorum-quenching AHL acylase may enable P. aeruginosa PAO1 to modulate its own quorum-sensing-dependent pathogenic potential and, moreover, offers possibilities for novel antipseudomonal therapies.
Acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs) are employed by several Proteobacteria as quorum-sensing signals. Past studies have established that these compounds are subject to biochemical decay and can be used as growth nutrients. Here we describe the isolation of a soil bacterium, Pseudomonas strain PAI-A, that degrades 3-oxododecanoyl-homoserine lactone (3OC12HSL) and other long-acyl, but not short-acyl, AHLs as sole energy sources for growth. The small-subunit rRNA gene from strain PAI-A was 98.4% identical to that of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but the soil isolate did not produce obvious pigments or AHLs or grow under denitrifying conditions or at 42°C. The quorum-sensing bacterium P. aeruginosa, which produces both 3OC12HSL and C4HSL, was examined for the ability to utilize AHLs for growth. It did so with a specificity similar to that of strain PAI-A, i.e., degrading long-acyl but not short-acyl AHLs. In contrast to the growth observed with strain PAI-A, P. aeruginosa strain PAO1 growth on AHLs commenced only after extremely long lag phases. Liquid-chromatography-atmospheric pressure chemical ionization-mass spectrometry analyses indicate that strain PAO1 degrades long-acyl AHLs via an AHL acylase and a homoserine-generating HSL lactonase. A P. aeruginosa gene, pvdQ (PA2385), has previously been identified as being a homologue of the AHL acylase described as occurring in a Ralstonia species. Escherichia coli expressing pvdQ catalyzed the rapid inactivation of long-acyl AHLs and the release of HSL. P. aeruginosa engineered to constitutively express pvdQ did not accumulate its 3OC12HSL quorum signal when grown in rich media. However, pvdQ knockout mutants of P. aeruginosa were still able to grow by utilizing 3OC12HSL. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the degradation of AHLs by pseudomonads or other γ-Proteobacteria, of AHL acylase activity in a quorum-sensing bacterium, of HSL lactonase activity in any bacterium, and of AHL degradation with specificity only towards AHLs with long side chains.
The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa employs acyl homoserine lactones (AHL) as signaling compounds to regulate virulence gene expression via quorum sensing. The AHL N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl-L- homoserine lactone (3OC12-HSL) also induces mammalian cell responses, including apoptosis and immune modulation. In certain cell types the apoptotic effects of 3OC12-HSL are mediated via a calcium-dependent signaling pathway, while some proinflammatory effects involve intracellular transcriptional regulators. However, the mechanisms by which mammalian cells perceive and respond to 3OC12-HSL are still not completely understood. Here we used microarray analysis to investigate the transcriptional response of human lung epithelial cells after exposure to 3OC12-HSL. These data revealed that mRNA levels for several genes involved in xenobiotic sensing and drug transport were increased in cells exposed to 3OC12-HSL, which led us to examine the intracellular fate of 3OC12-HSL. Using radiolabeled autoinducer uptake assays, we discovered that intracellular 3OC12-HSL levels increased after exposure and achieved maximal levels after 20-30 minutes. Intracellular 3OC12-HSL decreased to background levels over the next 90 minutes and this process blocked by pre-treatment with an inhibitor of the ABC transporter ABCA1. Taken together, these data suggest that mammalian cells detect 3OC12-HSL and activate protective mechanisms to expel it from the cell.
Quorum sensing; interkingdom signaling; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; AHL; autoinducer; microarray analysis; cell-to-cell signaling; xenobiotic; ABC transporter; drug pump
Quorum-sensing (QS) signals (N-acyl homoserine lactones [AHLs]) were extracted and detected from five commercially produced vacuum-packed meat samples. Ninety-six AHL-producing bacteria were isolated, and 92 were identified as Enterobacteriaceae. Hafnia alvei was the most commonly identified AHL-producing bacterium. Thin-layer chromatographic profiles of supernatants from six H. alvei isolates and of extracts from spoiling meat revealed that the major AHL species had an Rf value and shape similar to N-3-oxo-hexanoyl homoserine lactone (OHHL). Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (MS) (high-resolution MS) analysis confirmed the presence of OHHL in pure cultures of H. alvei. Vacuum-packed meat spoiled at the same rate when inoculated with the H. alvei wild type compared to a corresponding AHL-lacking mutant. Addition of specific QS inhibitors to the AHL-producing H. alvei inoculated in meat or to naturally contaminated meat did not influence the spoilage of vacuum-packed meat. An extracellular protein of approximately 20 kDa produced by the H. alvei wild-type was not produced by the AHL-negative mutant but was restored in the mutant when complemented by OHHL, thus indicating that AHLs do have a regulatory role in H. alvei. Coinoculation of H. alvei wild-type with an AHL-deficient Serratia proteamaculans B5a, in which protease secretion is QS regulated, caused spoilage of liquid milk. By contrast, coinoculation of AHL-negative strains of H. alvei and S. proteamaculans B5a did not cause spoilage. In conclusion, AHL and AHL-producing bacteria are present in vacuum-packed meat during storage and spoilage, but AHL does not appear to influence the spoilage of this particular type of conserved meat. Our data indicate that AHL-producing H. alvei may induce food quality-relevant phenotypes in other bacterial species in the same environment. H. alvei may thus influence spoilage of food products in which Enterobacteriaceae participate in the spoilage process.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram-negative environmental bacterium and the causative agent of melioidosis, a potentially fatal, acute or chronic disease endemic in the tropics. Acyl homoserine lactone (AHL)-mediated quorum sensing and signalling have been associated with virulence and biofilm formation in numerous bacterial pathogens. In the canonical acyl-homoserine lactone signalling paradigm, AHLs are detected by a response regulator. B. pseudomallei encodes three AHL synthases, encoded by bpsI1, bpsI2 and bpsI3, and five regulator genes. In this study, we mutated the B. pseudomallei AHL synthases individually and in double and triple combination. Five AHLs were detected and quantified by tandem liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy. The major AHLs produced were N-octanoylhomoserine lactone and N-(3-hydroxy-decanoyl)homoserine lactone, the expression of which depended on bpsI1 and bpsI2, respectively. B. pseudomallei infection of macrophage cells causes cell fusion, leading to multinucleated cells (3 or more nuclei per cell). A triple mutant defective in production of all three AHL synthases was associated with a striking phenotype of massively enhanced host cellular fusion in macrophages. However, neither abrogation of host cell fusion, achieved by mutation of bimA or hcp1, nor enhancement of fusion altered intracellular replication of B. pseudomallei. Furthermore, when tested in murine models of acute melioidosis the AHL synthase mutants were not attenuated for virulence. Collectively, this study identifies important new aspects of the genetic basis of AHL synthesis in B. pseudomallei and the roles of these AHLs in systemic infection and in cell fusion in macrophages for this important human pathogen.
Escherichia and Salmonella do not synthesize quorum sensing signaling molecules of the N-acyl-L-homoserine lactone (AHL) type but they can detect AHLs produced by other species of bacteria. AHLs are present in the bovine rumen but not in the remainder of the gastrointestinal tract. Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) responds to AHLs extracted from the bovine rumen. Salmonella fails to detect AHLs in the gastrointestinal tracts of pathogen-free mice or pigs, suggesting that AHLs are not present. However, Salmonella does detect the AHL production of Yersinia enterocolitica in mouse Peyer’s patches. In response to AHLs, EHEC represses flagellar genes and the LEE pathogenicity island while it activates the acid fitness island, whereas Salmonella activates the rck operon and a gene, srgE, encoding a putative Type III secreted effector.
Quorum sensing plays a central role in regulating many community derived symbiotic and pathogenic relationships of bacteria, and as such has attracted much attention in recent years. Acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs) are important signaling molecules in the quorum sensing gene regulatory processes found in numerous gram-negative species of bacteria that interact with eukaryotic organisms. AHLs are produced by acyl-homoserine lactone synthases. Bacteria can have multiple genes for AHL synthase enzymes, and such species are likely to produce several different types of AHLs. Determination of the types and the relative amounts of AHLs produced by AHL synthases in bacteria under varied conditions provides important insights into the mechanism of AHL synthase function and the regulation of transcriptional cascades initiated by quorum sensing signaling. This chapter describes a mass spectrometry method for determining the types and relative amounts of AHLs present in a sample.
acyl-homoserine lactone; AHL; quorum sensing; mass spectrometry; AHL synthase
Many gram-negative bacteria produce a specific set of N-acyl-l-homoserine-lactone (AHL) signaling molecules for the purpose of quorum sensing, which is a means of regulating coordinated gene expression in a cell-density-dependent manner. AHLs are produced from acylated acyl-carrier protein (acyl-ACP) and S-adenosyl-l-methionine by the AHL synthase enzyme. The appearance of specific AHLs is due in large part to the intrinsic specificity of the enzyme for subsets of acyl-ACP substrates. Structural studies of the Pantoea stewartii enzyme EsaI and AHL-sensitive bioassays revealed that threonine 140 in the acyl chain binding pocket directs the enzyme toward production of 3-oxo-homoserine lactones. Mass spectrometry was used to examine the range of AHL molecular species produced by AHL synthases under a variety of conditions. An AHL selective normal-phase chromatographic purification with addition of a deuterated AHL internal standard was followed by reverse-phase liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in order to obtain estimates of the relative amounts of different AHLs from biological samples. The AHLs produced by wild-type and engineered EsaI and LasI AHL synthases show that intrinsic specificity and different cellular conditions influence the production of AHLs. The threonine at position 140 in EsaI is important for the preference for 3-oxo-acyl-ACPs, but the role of the equivalent threonine in LasI is less clear. In addition, LasI expressed in Escherichia coli produces a high proportion of unusual AHLs with acyl chains consisting of an odd number of carbons. Furthermore, these studies offer additional methods that will be useful for surveying and quantitating AHLs from different sources.
Many bacteria utilize quorum sensing (QS) systems to communicate with each other by means of the production, release, and response to signal molecules. N-Acyl homoserine lactone (AHL)-based QS systems are particularly widespread among the Proteobacteria, in which they regulate various functions. It has become evident that AHLs can also serve as signals for interspecies communication. However, knowledge on the impact of AHLs for the ecology of bacteria in their natural habitat is scarce, due mainly to the lack of tools that allow the study of QS in bacterial communities in situ. Here, we describe the construction of self-mobilizable green fluorescent protein (GFP)-based AHL sensors that utilize the conjugation and replication properties of the broad-host-range plasmid RP4. We show that these novel AHL sensor plasmids can be easily transferred to different bacterial species by biparental mating and that they give rise to green fluorescent cells in case the recipient is an AHL producer. We also demonstrate that these sensor plasmids are capable of self-spreading within mixed biofilms and are a suitable tool for the identification of AHL-producing bacteria in lake sediment.
Crystal structures of the AHL-lactonase AidH in complex with substrate and product are reported at high resolution and a catalytic mechanism is proposed for the metal-independent AHL-lactonase.
Many pathogenic bacteria that infect humans, animals and plants rely on a quorum-sensing (QS) system to produce virulence factors. N-Acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) are the best-characterized cell–cell communication signals in QS. The concentration of AHL plays a key role in regulating the virulence-gene expression and essential biological functions of pathogenic bacteria. N-Acyl homoserine lactonases (AHL-lactonases) have important functions in decreasing pathogenicity by degrading AHLs. Here, structures of the AHL-lactonase from Ochrobactrum sp. (AidH) in complex with N-hexanoyl homoserine lactone, N-hexanoyl homoserine and N-butanoyl homoserine are reported. The high-resolution structures together with biochemical analyses reveal convincing details of AHL degradation. No metal ion is bound in the active site, which is different from other AHL-lactonases, which have a dual Lewis acid catalysis mechanism. AidH contains a substrate-binding tunnel between the core domain and the cap domain. The conformation of the tunnel entrance varies with the AHL acyl-chain length, which contributes to the binding promiscuity of AHL molecules in the active site. It also supports the biochemical result that AidH is a broad catalytic spectrum AHL-lactonase. Taken together, the present results reveal the catalytic mechanism of the metal-independent AHL-lactonase, which is a typical acid–base covalent catalysis.
quorum sensing; lactonases; α/β-hydrolases; acid–base catalysis; covalent catalysis
Quorum sensing (QS) is a cell density-dependent signaling system used by bacteria to coordinate gene expression within a population. QS systems in Gram negative bacteria consist of transcription factors of the LuxR family and their acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) ligands. We describe here a method for examining QS signaling systems in mammalian cells that uses engineered LuxR-type proteins from the opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can function as AHL-dependent transcription factors. The engineered proteins respond to their cognate ligands and display sequence specific DNA binding properties. This system has several potential biotechnological and biological applications. It may be used to characterize any LuxR-type protein, screen animal and plant cell extracts or exudates for compounds that mimic or interfere with AHL signaling or to screen different cell types for AHL inactivating activities.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa autoinducer; LuxR protein
Quorum sensing (QS) is a process by which bacteria use small molecules or peptidic signals to assess their local population densities. At sufficiently high density, bacteria can alter gene expression levels to regulate group behaviors involved in a range of important and diverse phenotypes, including virulence factor production, biofilm formation, root nodulation, and bioluminescence. Gram-negative bacteria most commonly use N-acylated L-homoserine lactones (AHLs) as their QS signals. The AHL lactone ring is hydrolyzed relatively rapidly at biological pH, and the ring-opened product is QS inactive. We seek to identify AHL analogues with heightened hydrolytic stability, and thereby potentially heightened activity, for use as non-native modulators of bacterial QS. As part of this effort, we probed the utility of thiolactone analogues in the current study as QS agonists and antagonists in Gram-negative bacteria. A focused library of thiolactone analogs was designed and rapidly synthesized in solution. We examined the activity of the library as agonists and antagonists of LuxR-type QS receptors in Pseudomonas aeruginosa (LasR), Vibrio fischeri (LuxR), and Agrobacterium tumefaciens (TraR) using bacterial reporter strains. The thiolactone library contained several highly active compounds, including some of the most active LuxR inhibitors and the most active synthetic TraR agonist reported to date. Analysis of a representative thiolactone analog revealed that its hydrolysis half-life was almost double that of its parent AHL in bacterial growth medium.
N-Acylated L-homoserine lactones; Gram-negative bacteria; LuxR-type receptors; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Quorum sensing; Thiolactone AHL analogs
Acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) are the most common class of quorum sensing signal molecules (autoinducers) that have been reported to be essential for virulence of many relevant pathogenic bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. New approach for controlling infections of such bacteria is through quorum quenching. In this study, the acyl homoserine lactone inhibitory activity of the crude enzyme from a Bacillus weihenstephanensis-isolate P65 was characterized. The crude enzyme was found to have relatively high thermal stability and was stable in pH range 6 to 9. The crude enzyme extract was found to have lactonase activity of 36.3 U/mg total protein. Maximum enzyme activity was achieved within a range of 28–50°C and pH 6–9. None of the metals used enhanced the activity neither did EDTA inhibit it. However, a concentration of 10 mM Fe+2 reduced the activity to 73.8%. Catalytic activity and kinetic constants were determined using hexanoyl homoserine lactone as a substrate. Studying enzyme substrate specificity using synthetic standard signals displayed broad spectrum of activity. The enzyme was found to be constitutive. Isolation and complete nucleotide sequence of the respective lactonase gene were done and submitted to the Genbank database under accession code KC823046.
Acylated homoserine lactones (AHLs) are chemical signals that mediate population density-dependent (quorum-sensing) gene expression in numerous gram-negative bacteria. In this study, gram-negative bacilli isolated from catheters were screened for AHL production by a cross-feeding assay utilizing an AHL-responsive Agrobacterium tumefaciens reporter strain. Positive reactions were obtained from 14 isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa; negative or weakly positive reactions were recorded for isolates of five other species. P. aeruginosa biofilms were then produced on catheters in a physical model of the bladder. Sections of colonized all-silicone catheters gave positive reactions for the quorum-sensing signal molecules as did sections that had been cleaned of biofilm and autoclaved. Control sections of unused catheters were negative in the tests. Sections from four of nine catheters that had been freshly removed from patients gave positive reactions for AHLs. Cleaned autoclaved sections of three of these catheters also gave strongly positive reactions for AHLs. These results demonstrate that AHLs are produced by biofilms as they develop on the catheters both in vitro in the model and in vivo in the patient’s bladder. They represent the first demonstration of AHL production by biofilms in a clinical setting.
Bioluminescence is a common phenotype in marine bacteria, such as Vibrio and Photobacterium species, and can be quorum regulated by N-acylated homoserine lactones (AHLs). We extracted a molecule that induced a bacterial AHL monitor (Agrobacterium tumefaciens NT1 [pZLR4]) from packed cod fillets, which spoil due to growth of Photobacterium phosphoreum. Interestingly, AHLs were produced by 13 nonbioluminescent strains of P. phosphoreum isolated from the product. Of 177 strains of P. phosphoreum (including 18 isolates from this study), none of 74 bioluminescent strains elicited a reaction in the AHL monitor, whereas 48 of 103 nonbioluminescent strains did produce AHLs. AHLs were also detected in Aeromonas spp., but not in Shewanella strains. Thin-layer chromatographic profiles of cod extracts and P. phosphoreum culture supernatants identified a molecule similar in relative mobility (Rf value) and shape to N-(3-hydroxyoctanoyl)homoserine lactone, and the presence of this molecule in culture supernatants from a nonbioluminescent strain of P. phosphoreum was confirmed by high-performance liquid chromatography-positive electrospray high-resolution mass spectrometry. Bioluminescence (in a non-AHL-producing strain of P. phosphoreum) was strongly up-regulated during growth, whereas AHL production in a nonbioluminescent strain of P. phosphoreum appeared constitutive. AHLs apparently did not influence bioluminescence, as the addition of neither synthetic AHLs nor supernatants delayed or reduced this phenotype in luminescent strains of P. phosphoreum. The phenotypes of nonbioluminescent P. phosphoreum strains regulated by AHLs remains to be elucidated.
A large number of Gram-negative bacteria employ N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) as signaling molecules in quorum sensing, which is a population density-dependent mechanism to coordinate gene expression. Antibody RS2-1G9 was elicited against a lactam mimetic of the N-acyl homoserine lactone and represents the only reported monoclonal antibody that recognizes the naturally-occuring N-acyl homoserine lactone with high affinity. Due to its high cross-reactivity, RS2-1G9 showed remarkable inhibition of quorum sensing signaling in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common opportunistic pathogen in humans. The crystal structure of Fab RS2-1G9 in complex with a lactam analog revealed complete encapsulation of the polar lactam moiety in the antibody combining site. This mode of recognition provides an elegant immunological solution for tight binding to an aliphatic, lipid-like ligand with a small head group lacking typical haptenic features, such as aromaticity or charge, which are often incorporated into hapten design to generate high-affinity antibodies. The ability of RS2-1G9 to discriminate between closely-related AHLs is conferred by six hydrogen bonds to the ligand. Conversely, cross-reactivity of RS2-1G9 towards the lactone is likely to originate from conservation of these hydrogen bonds as well as an additional hydrogen bond to the oxygen of the lactone ring. A short and narrow tunnel exiting at the protein surface harbors a portion of the acyl chain and would not allow for entry of the head group. The crystal structure of the antibody without its cognate lactam or lactone ligands revealed a considerably altered antibody combining site with a closed binding pocket, suggestive of an induced fit mechanism for ligand binding. Curiously, a completely buried ethylene glycol molecule mimics the lactam ring and, thus, serves as a surrogate ligand. The detailed structural delineation of this quorum-quenching antibody will now aid in further development of an antibody-based therapy against bacterial pathogens by interference with quorum sensing.
Crystal Structure; hapten complex; quorum sensing; quorum quenching; N-acyl homoserine lactone
The long chain N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) quorum sensing signal molecules released by Pseudomonas aeruginosa have long been known to elicit immunomodulatory effects through a process termed inter-kingdom signaling. However, to date very little is known regarding the exact mechanism of action of these compounds on their eukaryotic targets.
The use of the membrane dipole fluorescent sensor di-8-ANEPPS to characterise the interactions of AHL quorum sensing signal molecules, N-(3-oxotetradecanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C14-HSL), N-(3-oxododecanoyl)homoserine-L-lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL) and N-(3-oxodecanoyl) homoserine-L-lactone (3-oxo-C10 HSL) produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa with model and cellular membranes is reported. The interactions of these AHLs with artificial membranes reveal that each of the compounds is capable of membrane interaction in the micromolar concentration range causing significant modulation of the membrane dipole potential. These interactions fit simple hyperbolic binding models with membrane affinity increasing with acyl chain length. Similar results were obtained with T-lymphocytes providing the evidence that AHLs are capable of direct interaction with the plasma membrane. 3-oxo-C12-HSL interacts with lymphocytes via a cooperative binding model therefore implying the existence of an AHL membrane receptor. The role of cholesterol in the interactions of AHLs with membranes, the significance of modulating cellular dipole potential for receptor conformation and the implications for immune modulation are discussed.
Our observations support previous findings that increasing AHL lipophilicity increases the immunomodulatory activity of these quorum compounds, while providing evidence to suggest membrane interaction plays an important role in quorum sensing and implies a role for membrane microdomains in this process. Finally, our results suggest the existence of a eukaryotic membrane-located system that acts as an AHL receptor.
Yersinia enterocolitica synthesizes N-acyl-l-homoserine lactone (AHL) signal molecules via the LuxR-LuxI homologues YenR-YenI. In this study we checked two prototypes of mouse-virulent Y. enterocolitica serotype O8 strains WA-314 and 8081 for AHL production in vitro and in vivo (mouse infection model). We used thin-layer chromatography in combination with the Escherichia coli AHL biosensor to identify the AHL species produced. We detected only OHHL [N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone] and not HHL (N-hexanoyl-l-homoserine lactone) produced by Y. enterocolitica O8 in culture supernatant or infected mouse tissue. This is the first report demonstrating AHL production by yersiniae during infection.
The infection and virulence functions of diverse plant and animal pathogens that possess quorum sensing systems are regulated by N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) acting as signal molecules. AHL-acylase is a quorum quenching enzyme and degrades AHLs by removing the fatty acid side chain from the homoserine lactone ring of AHLs. This blocks AHL accumulation and pathogenic phenotypes in quorum sensing bacteria.
An aac gene of undemonstrated function from Ralstonia solanacearum GMI1000 was cloned, expressed in Escherichia coli; it inactivated four AHLs that were tested. The sequence of the 795 amino acid polypeptide was considerably similar to the AHL-acylase from Ralstonia sp. XJ12B with 83% identity match and shared 39% identity with an aculeacin A acylase precursor from the gram-positive actinomycete Actinoplanes utahensis. Aculeacin A is a neutral lipopeptide antibiotic and an antifungal drug. An electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) analysis verified that Aac hydrolysed the amide bond of AHL, releasing homoserine lactone and the corresponding fatty acids. However, ESI-MS analysis demonstrated that the Aac could not catalyze the hydrolysis of the palmitoyl moiety of the aculeacin A. Moreover, the results of MIC test of aculeacin A suggest that Aac could not deacylate aculeacin A. The specificity of Aac for AHLs showed a greater preference for long acyl chains than for short acyl chains. Heterologous expression of the aac gene in Chromobacterium violaceum CV026 effectively inhibited violacein and chitinase activity, both of which were regulated by the quorum-sensing mechanism. These results indicated that Aac could control AHL-dependent pathogenicity.
This is the first study to find an AHL-acylase in a phytopathogen. Our data provide direct evidence that the functioning of the aac gene (NP520668) of R. solanacearum GMI1000 is via AHL-acylase and not via aculeacin A acylase. Since Aac is a therapeutic potential quorum-quenching agent, its further biotechnological applications in agriculture, clinical and bio-industrial fields should be evaluated in the near future.