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1.  The Pseudomonas aeruginosa N-Acylhomoserine Lactone Quorum Sensing Molecules Target IQGAP1 and Modulate Epithelial Cell Migration 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(10):e1002953.
Quorum sensing (QS) signaling allows bacteria to control gene expression once a critical population density is achieved. The Gram-negative human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHL) as QS signals, which coordinate the production of virulence factors and biofilms. These bacterial signals can also modulate human cell behavior. Little is known about the mechanisms of the action of AHL on their eukaryotic targets. Here, we found that N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl-L-homoserine lactone 3O-C12-HSL modulates human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cell migration in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Using new 3O-C12-HSL biotin and fluorescently-tagged probes for LC-MS/MS and confocal imaging, respectively, we demonstrated for the first time that 3O-C12-HSL interacts and co-localizes with the IQ-motif-containing GTPase-activating protein IQGAP1 in Caco-2 cells. The interaction between IQGAP1 and 3O-C12-HSL was further confirmed by pull-down assay using a GST-tagged protein with subsequent Western blot of IQGAP1 and by identifying 3O-C12-HSL with a sensor bioassay. Moreover, 3O-C12-HSL induced changes in the phosphorylation status of Rac1 and Cdc42 and the localization of IQGAP1 as evidenced by confocal and STED microscopy and Western blots. Our findings suggest that the IQGAP1 is a novel partner for P.aeruginosa 3O-C12-HSL and likely the integrator of Rac1 and Cdc42- dependent altered cell migration. We propose that the targeting of IQGAP1 by 3O-C12-HSL can trigger essential changes in the cytoskeleton network and be an essential component in bacterial – human cell communication.
Author Summary
The human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other bacteria communicate with each other using quorum sensing (QS). This is important for their growth, virulence, motility and the formation of biofilms. Furthermore, eukaryotic cells “listen and respond” to QS signaling, but the exact mechanisms and receptors on mammalian cells have not been identified. We have previously shown that N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHL) alter epithelial barrier functions and increase chemotaxis in human neutrophils. We show here that 3O-C12-HSL modulates the migration of epithelial cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Using newly designed and validated biotin- and fluorescein-based 3O-C12-HSL probes we identified the IQ-motif-containing GTPase-activating protein IQGAP1 as a human target of 3O-C12-HSL. We propose that the interaction between IQGAP1 and 3O-C12-HSL provides a novel mechanism for its mode of action on eukaryotic cells, and by affecting the distribution of IQGAP1 and phosphorylation of Rac1 and Cdc42, upstream effectors of filamentous actin remodeling, also cell migration. We suggest that recognition of IQGAP1 by 3O-C12-HSL is a very early event in the communication between bacteria and human epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3469656  PMID: 23071436
2.  N-Acylhomoserine Lactones Undergo Lactonolysis in a pH-, Temperature-, and Acyl Chain Length-Dependent Manner during Growth of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(10):5635-5646.
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.
PMCID: PMC128322  PMID: 12228292
3.  N-Acylhomoserine Lactones Antagonize Virulence Gene Expression and Quorum Sensing in Staphylococcus aureus 
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(2):910-919.
Many gram-negative bacteria employ N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)-mediated quorum sensing to control virulence. To determine whether gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus respond to AHLs, we used a growth-dependent lux reporter fusion. Exposure of S. aureus to different AHLs revealed that 3-oxo-substituted AHLs with C10 to C14 acyl chains inhibited light output and growth in a concentration-dependent manner, while short-chain AHLs had no effect. N-(3-Oxododecanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL) inhibited the production of exotoxins and cell wall fibronectin-binding proteins but enhanced protein A expression. Since these processes are reciprocally regulated via the S. aureus agr quorum-sensing system, which in turn, is regulated via sar, we examined the effect of AHLs on sarA and agr. At sub-growth-inhibitory concentrations of 3-oxo-C12-HSL, both sarA expression and agr expression were inhibited, indicating that the action of 3-oxo-C12-HSL is mediated at least in part through antagonism of quorum sensing in S. aureus. Spent culture supernatants from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which produces both 3-oxo-C12-HSL and N-butanoyl-homoserine lactone (C4-HSL), also inhibited agr expression, although C4-HSL itself was inactive in this assay. Since quorum sensing in S. aureus depends on the activities of membrane-associated proteins, such as AgrB, AgrC, and AgrD, we investigated whether AHLs perturbed S. aureus membrane functionality by determining their influence on the membrane dipole potential. From the binding curves obtained, a dissociation constant of 7 μM was obtained for 3-oxo-C12-HSL, indicating the presence of a specific saturable receptor, whereas no binding was observed for C4-HSL. These data demonstrate that long-chain 3-oxo-substituted AHLs, such as 3-oxo-C12-HSL, are capable of interacting with the S. aureus cytoplasmic membrane in a saturable, specific manner and at sub-growth-inhibitory concentrations, down-regulating exotoxin production and both sarA and agr expression.
PMCID: PMC1360299  PMID: 16428734
4.  The quorum quenching antibody RS2-1G9 protects macrophages from the cytotoxic effects of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa quorum sensing signalling molecule N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl-homoserine lactone 
Molecular immunology  2008;45(9):2710-2714.
The Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen, uses acylhomoserine lactone-based quorum sensing systems to control its pathogenicity. One of its quorum sensing factors, N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone, has been shown not only to mediate bacterial quorum sensing but also to exert cytotoxic effects on mammalian cells. The monoclonal antibody RS2-1G9 generated against a 3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone analogue hapten was able to protect murine bone marrow-derived macrophages from the cytotoxic effects and also prevented the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38. These data demonstrate that an immunopharmacotherapeutic approach to combat P. aeruginosa infections might be a viable therapeutic option as the monoclonal antibody RS2-1G9 can readily sequester bacterial N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone molecules, thus interfering with their biological effects in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems.
PMCID: PMC2359578  PMID: 18304641
5.  Differential Immune Modulatory Activity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Quorum-Sensing Signal Molecules  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(11):6463-6470.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa releases a spectrum of well-regulated virulence factors, controlled by intercellular communication (quorum sensing) and mediated through the production of small diffusible quorum-sensing signal molecules (QSSM). We hypothesize that QSSM may in fact serve a dual purpose, also allowing bacterial colonization via their intrinsic immune-modulatory capacity. One class of signal molecule, the N-acylhomoserine lactones, has pleiotropic effects on eukaryotic cells, particularly those involved in host immunity. In the present study, we have determined the comparative effects of two chemically distinct and endobronchially detectable QSSM, N-(3-oxododecanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL) and 2-heptyl-3-hydroxy-4 (1H)-quinolone or the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS), on human leukocytes exposed to a series of stimuli designed to detect differential immunological activity in vitro. 3-Oxo-C12-HSL and PQS displayed differential effects on the release of interleukin-2 (IL-2) when human T cells were activated via the T-cell receptor and CD28 (a costimulatory molecule). 3-Oxo-C12-HSL inhibited cell proliferation and IL-2 release; PQS inhibited cell proliferation without affecting IL-2 release. Both molecules inhibited cell proliferation and the release of IL-2 following mitogen stimulation. Furthermore, in the presence of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide, 3-oxo-C12-HSL inhibited tumor necrosis factor alpha release from human monocytes, as reported previously (K. Tateda et al., Infect. Immun. 64:37-43, 1996), whereas PQS did not inhibit in this assay. These data highlight the presence of two differentially active immune modulatory QSSM from P. aeruginosa, which are detectable endobronchially and may be active at the host/pathogen interface during infection with P. aeruginosa, should the bronchial airway lymphoid tissues prove to be accessible to QSSM.
PMCID: PMC522992  PMID: 15501777
6.  The Interaction of N-Acylhomoserine Lactone Quorum Sensing Signaling Molecules with Biological Membranes: Implications for Inter-Kingdom Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13522.
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.
Methodology/Principal Findings
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.
Conclusions/ Significance
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.
PMCID: PMC2958149  PMID: 20975958
7.  Ellagic Acid Derivatives from Terminalia chebula Retz. Downregulate the Expression of Quorum Sensing Genes to Attenuate Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 Virulence 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53441.
Burgeoning antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa has necessitated the development of anti pathogenic agents that can quench acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) mediated QS with least risk of resistance. This study explores the anti quorum sensing potential of T. chebula Retz. and identification of probable compounds(s) showing anti QS activity and the mechanism of attenuation of P. aeruginosa PAO1 virulence factors.
Methods and Results
Methanol extract of T. chebula Retz. fruit showed anti QS activity using Agrobacterium tumefaciens A136. Bioactive fraction (F7), obtained by fractionation of methanol extract using Sephadex LH20, showed significant reduction (p<0.001) in QS regulated production of extracellular virulence factors in P. aeruginosa PAO1. Biofilm formation and alginate were significantly (p<0.05) reduced with enhanced (20%) susceptibility to tobramycin. Real Time PCR of F7 treated P. aeruginosa showed down regulation of autoinducer synthase (lasI and rhlI) and their cognate receptor (lasR and rhlR) genes by 89, 90, 90 and 93%, respectively. Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry also showed 90 and 64% reduction in the production of 3-oxo-C12HSL and C4HSL after treatment. Decrease in AHLs as one of the mechanisms of quorum quenching by F7 was supported by the reversal of inhibited swarming motility in F7-treated P. aeruginosa PAO1 on addition of C4HSL. F7 also showed antagonistic activity against 3-oxo-C12HSL-dependent QS in E. coli bioreporter. C. elegans fed on F7-treated P. aeruginosa showed enhanced survival with LT50 increasing from 24 to 72 h. LC-ESI-MS of F7 revealed the presence of ellagic acid derivatives responsible for anti QS activity in T. chebula extract.
This is the first report on anti QS activity of T. chebula fruit linked to EADs which down regulate the expression of lasIR and rhlIR genes with concomitant decrease in AHLs in P. aeruginosa PAO1 causing attenuation of its virulence factors and enhanced sensitivity of its biofilm towards tobramycin.
PMCID: PMC3539995  PMID: 23320085
8.  Characterisation of two quorum sensing systems in the endophytic Serratia plymuthica strain G3: differential control of motility and biofilm formation according to life-style 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:26.
N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)-based quorum sensing (QS) systems have been described in many plant-associated Gram-negative bacteria to control certain beneficial phenotypic traits, such as production of biocontrol factors and plant growth promotion. However, the role of AHL-mediated signalling in the endophytic strains of plant-associated Serratia is still poorly understood. An endophytic Serratia sp. G3 with biocontrol potential and high levels of AHL signal production was isolated from the stems of wheat and the role of QS in this isolate was determined.
Strain G3 classified as Serratia plymuthica based on 16S rRNA was subjected to phylogenetic analysis. Using primers to conserved sequences of luxIR homologues from the Serratia genus, splIR and spsIR from the chromosome of strain G3 were cloned and sequenced. AHL profiles from strain G3 and Escherichia coli DH5α expressing splI or spsI from recombinant plasmids were identified by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. This revealed that the most abundant AHL signals produced by SplI in E. coli were N-3-oxo-hexanoylhomoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL), N-3-oxo-heptanoylhomoserine lactone (3-oxo-C7-HSL), N-3-hydroxy-hexanoylhomoserine lactone (3-hydroxy-C6-HSL), N-hexanoylhomoserine lactone (C6-HSL), and N-heptanoyl homoserine lactone (C7-HSL); whereas SpsI was primarily responsible for the synthesis of N-butyrylhomoserine lactone (C4-HSL) and N-pentanoylhomoserine lactone (C5-HSL). Furthermore, a quorum quenching analysis by heterologous expression of the Bacillus A24 AiiA lactonase in strain G3 enabled the identification of the AHL-regulated biocontrol-related traits. Depletion of AHLs with this lactonase resulted in altered adhesion and biofilm formation using a microtiter plate assay and flow cells coupled with confocal laser scanning microscopy respectively. This was different from the closely related S. plymuthica strains HRO-C48 and RVH1, where biofilm formation for both strains is AHL-independent. In addition, QS in G3 positively regulated antifungal activity, production of exoenzymes, but negatively regulated production of indol-3-acetic acid (IAA), which is in agreement with previous reports in strain HRO-C48. However, in contrast to HRO-C48, swimming motility was not controlled by AHL-mediated QS.
This is the first report of the characterisation of two AHL-based quorum sensing systems in the same isolate of the genus Serratia. Our results show that the QS network is involved in the global regulation of biocontrol-related traits in the endophytic strain G3. However, although free-living and endophytic S. plymuthica share some conservation on QS phenotypic regulation, the control of motility and biofilm formation seems to be strain-specific and possible linked to the life-style of this organism.
PMCID: PMC3044098  PMID: 21284858
9.  The Global Posttranscriptional Regulator RsmA Modulates Production of Virulence Determinants and N-Acylhomoserine Lactones in Pseudomonas aeruginosa 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(22):6676-6683.
Posttranscriptional control is known to contribute to the regulation of secondary metabolism and virulence determinants in certain gram-negative bacteria. Here we report the isolation of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa gene which encodes a global translational regulatory protein, RsmA (regulator of secondary metabolites). Overexpression of rsmA resulted in a substantial reduction in the levels of extracellular products, including protease, elastase, and staphylolytic (LasA protease) activity as well as the PA-IL lectin, hydrogen cyanide (HCN), and the phenazine pigment pyocyanin. While inactivation of rsmA in P. aeruginosa had only minor effects on the extracellular enzymes and the PA-IL lectin, the production of HCN and pyocyanin was enhanced during the exponential phase. The influence of RsmA on N-acylhomoserine lactone-mediated quorum sensing was determined by assaying the levels of N-(3-oxododecanoyl)homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL) and N-butanoylhomoserine lactone (C4-HSL) produced by the rsmA mutant and the rsmA-overexpressing strain. RsmA exerted a negative effect on the synthesis of both 3-oxo-C12-HSL and C4-HSL, which was confirmed by using lasI and rhlI translational fusions. These data also highlighted the temporal expression control of the lasI gene, which was induced much earlier and to a higher level during the exponential growth phase in an rsmA mutant. To investigate whether RsmA modulates HCN production solely via quorum-sensing control, hcn translational fusions were employed to monitor the regulation of the cyanide biosynthesis genes (hcnABC). RsmA was shown to exert an additional negative effect on cyanogenesis posttranscriptionally by acting on a region surrounding the hcnA ribosome-binding site. This suggests that, in P. aeruginosa, RsmA functions as a pleiotropic posttranscriptional regulator of secondary metabolites directly and also indirectly by modulating the quorum-sensing circuitry.
PMCID: PMC95500  PMID: 11673439
10.  Effects of natural and chemically synthesized furanones on quorum sensing in Chromobacterium violaceum 
BMC Microbiology  2004;4:25.
Cell to cell signaling systems in Gram-negative bacteria rely on small diffusible molecules such as the N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHL). These compounds are involved in the production of antibiotics, exoenzymes, virulence factors and biofilm formation. They belong to the class of furanone derivatives which are frequently found in nature as pheromones, flavor compounds or secondary metabolites. To obtain more information on the relation between molecular structure and quorum sensing, we tested a variety of natural and chemically synthesized furanones for their ability to interfere with the quorum sensing mechanism using a quantitative bioassay with Chromobacterium violaceum CV026 for antagonistic and agonistic action. We were looking at the following questions:
1. Do these compounds affect growth?
2) Do these compounds activate the quorum sensing system of C. violaceum CV026?
3) Do these compounds inhibit violacein formation induced by the addition of the natural inducer N-hexanoylhomoserine lactone (HHL)?
4) Do these compounds enhance violacein formation in presence of HHL?
The naturally produced N-acylhomoserine lactones showed a strong non-linear concentration dependent influence on violacein production in C. violaceum with a maximum at 3.7*10-8 M with HHL. Apart from the N-acylhomoserine lactones only one furanone (emoxyfurane) was found to simulate N-acylhomoserine lactone activity and induce violacein formation. The most effective substances acting negatively both on growth and quorum sensing were analogs and intermediates in synthesis of the butenolides from Streptomyces antibioticus.
As the regulation of many bacterial processes is governed by quorum sensing systems, the finding of natural and synthetic furanones acting as agonists or antagonists suggests an interesting tool to control and handle detrimental AHL induced effects.
Some effects are due to general toxicity; others are explained by a competitive interaction for LuxR proteins. For further experiments it is important to be aware of the fact that quorum sensing active compounds have non-linear effects. Inducers can act as inhibitors and inhibitors might be able to activate or enhance the quorum sensing system depending on chemical structure and concentration levels.
PMCID: PMC509243  PMID: 15233843
11.  Degradation of Bacterial Quorum Sensing Signaling Molecules by the Microscopic Yeast Trichosporon loubieri Isolated from Tropical Wetland Waters 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2013;13(10):12943-12957.
Proteobacteria produce N-acylhomoserine lactones as signaling molecules, which will bind to their cognate receptor and activate quorum sensing-mediated phenotypes in a population-dependent manner. Although quorum sensing signaling molecules can be degraded by bacteria or fungi, there is no reported work on the degradation of such molecules by basidiomycetous yeast. By using a minimal growth medium containing N-3-oxohexanoylhomoserine lactone as the sole source of carbon, a wetland water sample from Malaysia was enriched for microbial strains that can degrade N-acylhomoserine lactones, and consequently, a basidiomycetous yeast strain WW1C was isolated. Morphological phenotype and molecular analyses confirmed that WW1C was a strain of Trichosporon loubieri. We showed that WW1C degraded AHLs with N-acyl side chains ranging from 4 to 10 carbons in length, with or without oxo group substitutions at the C3 position. Re-lactonisation bioassays revealed that WW1C degraded AHLs via a lactonase activity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of degradation of N-acyl-homoserine lactones and utilization of N-3-oxohexanoylhomoserine as carbon and nitrogen source for growth by basidiomycetous yeast from tropical wetland water; and the degradation of bacterial quorum sensing molecules by an eukaryotic yeast.
PMCID: PMC3859043  PMID: 24072030
basidiomycetous; biosensor; lactonase; N-acylhomoserine lactone; quorum sensing; quorum quenching; Rapid Resolution Liquid Chromatography; Trichosporon loubieri; yeast
12.  Stereochemical Insignificance Discovered in Acinetobacter baumannii Quorum Sensing 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37102.
Stereochemistry is a key aspect of molecular recognition for biological systems. As such, receptors and enzymes are often highly stereospecific, only recognizing one stereoisomer of a ligand. Recently, the quorum sensing signaling molecules used by the nosocomial opportunistic pathogen, Acinetobacter baumannii, were identified, and the primary signaling molecule isolated from this species was N-(3-hydroxydodecanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone. A plethora of bacterial species have been demonstrated to utilize 3-hydroxy-acylhomoserine lactone autoinducers, and in virtually all cases, the (R)-stereoisomer was identified as the natural ligand and exhibited greater autoinducer activity than the corresponding (S)-stereoisomer. Using chemical synthesis and biochemical assays, we have uncovered a case of stereochemical insignificance in A. baumannii and provide a unique example where stereochemistry appears nonessential for acylhomoserine lactone-mediated quorum sensing signaling. Based on previously reported phylogenetic studies, we suggest that A. baumannii has evolutionarily adopted this unique, yet promiscuous quorum sensing system to ensure its survival, particularly in the presence of other proteobacteria.
PMCID: PMC3358330  PMID: 22629354
13.  Labrenzia sp. BM1: A Quorum Quenching Bacterium That Degrades N-acyl Homoserine Lactones via Lactonase Activity 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2014;14(7):11760-11769.
We report the degradation of quorum sensing N-acylhomoserine lactone molecules by a bacterium isolated from a Malaysian marine water sample. MALDI-TOF and phylogenetic analysis indicated this isolate BM1 clustered closely to Labrenzia sp. The quorum quenching activity of this isolate was confirmed by using a series of bioassays and rapid resolution liquid chromatography analysis. Labrenzia sp. degraded a wide range of N-acylhomoserine lactones namely N-(3-hexanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (C6-HSL), N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL) and N-(3-hydroxyhexanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone (3-hydroxy-C6-HSL). Re-lactonisation bioassays confirmed Labrenzia sp. BM1 degraded these signalling molecules efficiently via lactonase activity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first documentation of a Labrenzia sp. capable of degrading N-acylhomoserine lactones and confirmation of its lactonase-based mechanism of action.
PMCID: PMC4168518  PMID: 24995373
Labrenzia sp.; quorum quenching; quorum sensing; marine; seawater; rapid resolution liquid chromatography (RRLC); N-acylhomoserine lactone; N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone
14.  Quorum Sensing in Burkholderia cepacia: Identification of the LuxRI Homologs CepRI 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(3):748-756.
Burkholderia cepacia has emerged as an important pathogen in patients with cystic fibrosis. Many gram-negative pathogens regulate the production of extracellular virulence factors by a cell density-dependent mechanism termed quorum sensing, which involves production of diffusible N-acylated homoserine lactone signal molecules, called autoinducers. Transposon insertion mutants of B. cepacia K56-2 which hyperproduced siderophores on chrome azurol S agar were identified. One mutant, K56-R2, contained an insertion in a luxR homolog that was designated cepR. The flanking DNA region was used to clone the wild-type copy of cepR. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of cepI, a luxI homolog, located 727 bp upstream and divergently transcribed from cepR. A lux box-like sequence was identified upstream of cepI. CepR was 36% identical to Pseudomonas aeruginosa RhlR and 67% identical to SolR of Ralstonia solanacearum. CepI was 38% identical to RhlI and 64% identical to SolI. K56-R2 demonstrated a 67% increase in the production of the siderophore ornibactin, was protease negative on dialyzed brain heart infusion milk agar, and produced 45% less lipase activity in comparison to the parental strain. Complementation of a cepR mutation restored parental levels of ornibactin and protease but not lipase. An N-acylhomoserine lactone was purified from culture fluids and identified as N-octanoylhomoserine lactone. K56-I2, a cepI mutant, was created and shown not to produce N-octanoylhomoserine lactone. K56-I2 hyperproduced ornibactin and did not produce protease. These data suggest both a positive and negative role for cepIR in the regulation of extracellular virulence factor production by B. cepacia.
PMCID: PMC93439  PMID: 9922236
15.  Substituted Lactam and Cyclic Azahemiacetals Modulate Pseudomonas aeruginosa Quorum Sensing 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2011;19(18):5500-5506.
Quorum sensing (QS) is a population-dependent signaling process bacteria use to control multiple processes including virulence that is critical for establishing infection. The most common QS signaling molecule used by Gram-negative bacteria are acylhomoserine lactones. The development of non-native acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) ligands has emerged as a promising new strategy to inhibit QS in Gram-negative bacteria. In this work, we have synthesized a set of optically pure γ-lactams and their reduced cyclic azahemiacetal analogues, bearing the additional alkylthiomethyl substituent, and evaluated their effect on the AHL-dependent Pseudomonas aeruginosa las and rhl QS pathways. The concentration of these ligands and the simple structural modification such as the length of the alkylthio substituent has notable effect on activity. The γ-lactam derivatives with nonylthio or dodecylthio chains acted as inhibitors of las signaling with moderate potency. The cyclic azahemiacetal with shorter propylthio or hexylthio substituent was found to strongly inhibit both las and rhl signaling at higher concentrations while the propylthio analogue strongly stimulated the las QS system at lower concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3171587  PMID: 21855349
Azahemiacetals; Azasugars; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Quorum sensing
16.  The Pseudomonas aeruginosa Autoinducer N-3-Oxododecanoyl Homoserine Lactone Accelerates Apoptosis in Macrophages and Neutrophils  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(10):5785-5793.
Quorum-sensing systems are critical regulators of the expression of virulence factors of various organisms, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Las and Rhl are two major quorum-sensing components, and they are regulated by their corresponding autoinducers, N-3-oxododecanoyl homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C12-HSL) and N-butyryl-l-homoserine lactone (C4-HSL). Recent progress has demonstrated the potential of quorum-sensing molecules, especially 3-oxo-C12-HSL, for modulation of the host immune system. Here we show the specific ability of 3-oxo-C12-HSL to induce apoptosis in certain types of cells. When bone marrow-derived macrophages were incubated with synthetic 3-oxo-C12-HSL, but when they were incubated not C4-HSL, significant loss of viability was observed in a concentration (12 to 50 μM)- and incubation time (1 to 24 h)-dependent manner. The cytotoxic activity of 3-oxo-C12-HSL was also observed in neutrophils and monocytic cell lines U-937 and P388D1 but not in epithelial cell lines CCL-185 and HEp-2. Cells treated with 3-oxo-C12-HSL revealed morphological alterations indicative of apoptosis. Acceleration of apoptosis in 3-oxo-C12-HSL-treated cells was confirmed by multiple criteria (caspases 3 and 8, histone-associated DNA fragments, phosphatidylserine expression). Structure-activity correlation experiments demonstrated that the fine structure of 3-oxo-C12-HSL, the HSL backbone, and side chain length are required for maximal activity. These data suggest that Pseudomonas 3-oxo-C12-HSL specifically promotes induction of apoptosis, which may be associated with 3-oxo-C12-HSL-induced cytotoxicity in macrophages and neutrophils. Our data suggest that the quorum-sensing molecule 3-oxo-C12-HSL has critical roles in the pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa infection, not only in the induction of bacterial virulence factors but also in the modulation of host responses.
PMCID: PMC201082  PMID: 14500500
17.  A Novel Metagenomic Short-Chain Dehydrogenase/Reductase Attenuates Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Formation and Virulence on Caenorhabditis elegans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26278.
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.
PMCID: PMC3202535  PMID: 22046268
18.  Lyngbyoic acid, a “tagged” fatty acid from a marine cyanobacterium, disrupts quorum sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa† 
Molecular bioSystems  2011;7(4):1205-1216.
Quorum sensing (QS) is a mechanism of bacterial gene regulation in response to increases in population density. Perhaps most studied are QS pathways mediated by acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) in Gram-negative bacteria. Production of small molecule QS signals, their accumulation within a diffusion-limited environment and their binding to a LuxR-type receptor trigger QS-controlled gene regulatory cascades. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, for example, binding of AHLs to their cognate receptors (LasR, RhlR) controls production of virulence factors, pigments, antibiotics and other behaviors important for its interactions with eukaryotic hosts and other bacteria. We have previously shown that marine cyanobacteria produce QS-inhibitory molecules, including 8-epi-malyngamide C (1), malyngamide C (2) and malyngolide (3). Here we isolated a new small cyclopropane-containing fatty acid, lyngbyoic acid (4), as a major metabolite of the marine cyanobacterium, Lyngbya cf. majuscula, collected at various sites in Florida. We screened 4 against four reporters based on different AHL receptors (LuxR, AhyR, TraR and LasR) and found that 4 most strongly affected LasR. We also show that 4 reduces pyocyanin and elastase (LasB) both on the protein and transcript level in wild-type P. aeruginosa, and that 4 directly inhibits LasB enzymatic activity. Conversely, dodecanoic acid (9) increased pyocyanin and LasB, demonstrating that the fused cyclopropane “tag” is functionally relevant and potentially confers resistance to β-oxidation. Global transcriptional effects of 4 in some ways replicate the gene expression changes of P. aeruginosa during chronic lung infections of cystic fibrosis patients, with reduced lasR signaling, increased biofilm and expression of the virulence locus HSI-I. Compound 4 may therefore prove to be a useful tool in the study of P. aeruginosa adaption during such chronic infections.
PMCID: PMC3802547  PMID: 21258753
19.  Biofilm Development on Caenorhabditis elegans by Yersinia Is Facilitated by Quorum Sensing-Dependent Repression of Type III Secretion 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(1):e1001250.
Yersinia pseudotuberculosis forms biofilms on Caenorhabditis elegans which block nematode feeding. This genetically amenable host-pathogen model has important implications for biofilm development on living, motile surfaces. Here we show that Y. pseudotuberculosis biofilm development on C. elegans is governed by N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)-mediated quorum sensing (QS) since (i) AHLs are produced in nematode associated biofilms and (ii) Y. pseudotuberculosis strains expressing an AHL-degrading enzyme or in which the AHL synthase (ypsI and ytbI) or response regulator (ypsR and ytbR) genes have been mutated, are attenuated. Although biofilm formation is also attenuated in Y. pseudotuberculosis strains carrying mutations in the QS-controlled motility regulator genes, flhDC and fliA, and the flagellin export gene, flhA, flagella are not required since fliC mutants form normal biofilms. However, in contrast to the parent and fliC mutant, Yop virulon proteins are up-regulated in flhDC, fliA and flhA mutants in a temperature and calcium independent manner. Similar observations were found for the Y. pseudotuberculosis QS mutants, indicating that the Yop virulon is repressed by QS via the master motility regulator, flhDC. By curing the pYV virulence plasmid from the ypsI/ytbI mutant, by growing YpIII under conditions permissive for type III needle formation but not Yop secretion and by mutating the type III secretion apparatus gene, yscJ, we show that biofilm formation can be restored in flhDC and ypsI/ytbI mutants. These data demonstrate that type III secretion blocks biofilm formation and is reciprocally regulated with motility via QS.
Author Summary
Many Gram-negative bacteria communicate by producing and sensing the presence of chemical signal molecules such as the N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs). Bacterial cells use AHLs to convey information about their environment, metabolism and population size. This type of chemical signalling is called ‘quorum sensing’ (QS) and is often used by pathogenic bacteria to promote acute or chronic infections through the control of motility, toxins, tissue degrading enzymes and surface-associated biofilms. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is a human pathogen which forms biofilms on the surface of the nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans. This offers a simple means for investigating biofilm development on living tissues and can be used to identify genetic features of both the pathogen and the host that contribute to biofilm-associated infections. We have discovered that quorum sensing is required for Y. pseudotuberculosis biofilm formation on C. elegans through a regulatory pathway which involves the master motility regulator protein (FlhDC) reciprocally controlling bacterial swimming and the construction of a specialized secretion needle that delivers proteins into mammalian cells to disrupt their normal activities.
PMCID: PMC3017118  PMID: 21253572
20.  The LuxM Homologue VanM from Vibrio anguillarum Directs the Synthesis of N-(3-Hydroxyhexanoyl)homoserine Lactone and N-Hexanoylhomoserine Lactone 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(12):3537-3547.
Vibrio anguillarum, which causes terminal hemorrhagic septicemia in fish, was previously shown to possess a LuxRI-type quorum-sensing system (vanRI) and to produce N-(3-oxodecanoyl)homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C10-HSL). However, a vanI null mutant still activated N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) biosensors, indicating the presence of an additional quorum-sensing circuit in V. anguillarum. In this study, we have characterized this second system. Using high-pressure liquid chromatography in conjunction with mass spectrometry and chemical analysis, we identified two additional AHLs as N-hexanoylhomoserine lactone (C6-HSL) and N-(3-hydroxyhexanoyl)homoserine lactone (3-hydroxy-C6-HSL). Quantification of each AHL present in stationary-phase V. anguillarum spent culture supernatants indicated that 3-oxo-C10-HSL, 3-hydroxy-C6-HSL, and C6-HSL are present at approximately 8.5, 9.5, and 0.3 nM, respectively. Furthermore, vanM, the gene responsible for the synthesis of these AHLs, was characterized and shown to be homologous to the luxL and luxM genes, which are required for the production of N-(3-hydroxybutanoyl)homoserine lactone in Vibrio harveyi. However, resequencing of the V. harveyi luxL/luxM junction revealed a sequencing error present in the published sequence, which when corrected resulted in a single open reading frame (termed luxM). Downstream of vanM, we identified a homologue of luxN (vanN) that encodes a hybrid sensor kinase which forms part of a phosphorelay cascade involved in the regulation of bioluminescence in V. harveyi. A mutation in vanM abolished the production of C6-HSL and 3-hydroxy-C6-HSL. In addition, production of 3-oxo-C10-HSL was abolished in the vanM mutant, suggesting that 3-hydroxy-C6-HSL and C6-HSL regulate the production of 3-oxo-C10-HSL via vanRI. However, a vanN mutant displayed a wild-type AHL profile. Neither mutation affected either the production of proteases or virulence in a fish infection model. These data indicate that V. anguillarum possesses a hierarchical quorum sensing system consisting of regulatory elements homologous to those found in both V. fischeri (the LuxRI homologues VanRI) and V. harveyi (the LuxMN homologues, VanMN).
PMCID: PMC95229  PMID: 11371516
21.  Human transcriptome analysis reveals a potential role for active transport in the metabolism of Pseudomonas aeruginosa autoinducers 
Microbes and infection / Institut Pasteur  2010;12(12-13):1042-1050.
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.
PMCID: PMC2963707  PMID: 20659582
Quorum sensing; interkingdom signaling; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; AHL; autoinducer; microarray analysis; cell-to-cell signaling; xenobiotic; ABC transporter; drug pump
22.  A quorum-sensing system in the free-living photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(23):7530-7537.
Rhodobacter sphaeroides is a free-living, photoheterotrophic bacterium known for its genomic and metabolic complexity. We have discovered that this purple photosynthetic organism possesses a quorum-sensing system. Quorum sensing occurs in a number of eukaryotic host-associated gram-negative bacteria. In these bacteria there are two genes required for quorum sensing, the luxR and luxI homologs, and there is an acylhomoserine lactone signal molecule synthesized by the product of the luxI homolog. In R. sphaeroides, synthesis of a novel homoserine lactone signal, 7,8-cis-N-(tetradecenoyl)homoserine lactone, is directed by a luxI homolog termed cerI. Two open reading frames immediately upstream of cerI are proposed to be components of the quorum-sensing system. The first of these is a luxR homolog termed cerR, and the second is a small open reading frame of 159 bp. Inactivation of cerI in R. sphaeroides results in mucoid colony formation on agar and formation of large aggregates of cells in liquid cultures. Clumping of CerI mutants in liquid culture is reversible upon addition of the acylhomoserine lactone signal and represents a phenotype unlike those controlled by quorum sensing in other bacteria.
PMCID: PMC179706  PMID: 9393720
23.  Molecular Basis for the Recognition of Structurally Distinct Autoinducer Mimics by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa LasR Quorum Sensing Signaling Receptor 
Chemistry & biology  2009;16(9):961-970.
The human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa coordinates the expression of virulence factors using quorum sensing, a signaling cascade triggered by the activation of signal receptors by small molecule autoinducers. These homoserine lactone autoinducers stabilize their cognate receptors and activate their functions as transcription factors. As quorum sensing regulates the progression of infection and host immune resistance, significant efforts have been devoted towards the identification of small molecules that disrupt this process. Screening efforts have identified a class of triphenyl compounds that are structurally distinct from the homoserine lactone autoinducer, yet interact specifically and potently with LasR receptor to modulate quorum sensing (Muh et al., 2006a). Here we present the high-resolution crystal structures of the ligand-binding domain of LasR in complex with the autoinducer N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl homoserine lactone (1.4 Å resolution), and with the triphenyl mimics TP-1, TP-3, and TP-4 (to between 1.8-2.3 Å resolution). These crystal structures provide a molecular rationale for understanding how chemically distinct compounds can be accommodated by a highly selective receptor and provides the framework for the development of novel quorum sensing regulators, utilizing the triphenyl scaffold.
PMCID: PMC2778763  PMID: 19778724
24.  Rhodotorula Mucilaginosa, a Quorum Quenching Yeast Exhibiting Lactonase Activity Isolated from a Tropical Shoreline 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2014;14(4):6463-6473.
Two microbial isolates from a Malaysian shoreline were found to be capable of degrading N-acylhomoserine lactones. Both Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Time of Flight-Mass Spectrometry and 18S rDNA phylogenetic analyses confirmed that these isolates are Rhodotorula mucilaginosa. Quorum quenching activities were detected by a series of bioassays and rapid resolution liquid chromatography analysis. The isolates were able to degrade various quorum sensing molecules namely N-hexanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (C6-HSL), N-(3-oxo-hexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL) and N-(3-hydroxyhexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-hydroxy-C6-HSL). Using a relactonisation assay to verify the quorum quenching mechanism, it is confirmed that Rh. mucilaginosa degrades the quorum sensing molecules via lactonase activity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first documentation of the fact that Rh. mucilaginosa has activity against a broad range of AHLs namely C6-HSL, 3-oxo-C6-HSL and 3-hydroxy-C6-HSL.
PMCID: PMC4029656  PMID: 24721765
N-hexanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (C6-HSL); N-(3-oxo-hexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL); N-(3-hydroxyhexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-hydroxy-C6-HSL); quorum sensing; quorum quenching
25.  N-acyl Homoserine Lactone-Producing Pseudomonas putida Strain T2-2 from Human Tongue Surface 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2013;13(10):13192-13203.
Bacterial cell-to-cell communication (quorum sensing) refers to the regulation of bacterial gene expression in response to changes in microbial population density. Quorum sensing bacteria produce, release and respond to chemical signal molecules called autoinducers. Bacteria use two types of autoinducers, namely autoinducer-1 (AI-1) and autoinducer-2 (AI-2) where the former are N-acylhomoserine lactones and the latter is a product of the luxS gene. Most of the reported literatures show that the majority of oral bacteria use AI-2 for quorum sensing but rarely the AI-1 system. Here we report the isolation of Pseudomonas putida strain T2-2 from the oral cavity. Using high resolution mass spectrometry, it is shown that this isolate produced N-octanoylhomoserine lactone (C8-HSL) and N-dodecanoylhomoserine lactone (C12-HSL) molecules. This is the first report of the finding of quorum sensing of P. putida strain T2-2 isolated from the human tongue surface and their quorum sensing molecules were identified.
PMCID: PMC3859058  PMID: 24084113
autoinducer; bioreporter; luxS; N-acylhomoserine lactone; oral buccal cavity; quorum quenching; quorum sensing

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