Caister Academic Press

CIMB Abstract

Curr. Issues Mol. Biol. (2006) 8: 1-10.

Quorum Sensing and the Lifestyle of Yersinia

Steven Atkinson, R. Elizabeth Sockett, Miguel Cámara and Paul Williams

Bacterial cell-to-cell communication ('quorum sensing') is mediated by structurally diverse, small diffusible signal molecules which regulate gene expression as a function of cell population density. Many different Gram-negative animal, plant and fish pathogens employ N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) as quorum sensing signal molecules which control diverse physiological processes including bioluminescence, swarming, antibiotic biosynthesis, plasmid conjugal transfer, biofilm development and virulence. AHL-dependent quorum sensing is highly conserved in both pathogenic and non-pathogenic members of the genus Yersinia. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis for example, produces at least eight different AHLs and possesses two homologues of the LuxI family of AHL synthases and two members of the LuxR family of AHL-dependent response regulators. In all Yersinia species so far examined, the genes coding for LuxR and LuxI homologues are characteristically arranged convergently and overlapping. In Y. pseudotuberculosis AHL-dependent quorum sensing is involved in the control of cell aggregation and swimming motility, the latter via the flagellar regulatory cascade. This is also the case for swimming and also swarming motility in Yersinia enterocolitica. However the role of AHL-dependent quorum sensing in Yersinia pestis remains to be determined.

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