Self perception in bacteria: quorum sensing with acylated homoserine lactones

Curr Opin Microbiol. 1998 Apr;1(2):183-9. doi: 10.1016/s1369-5274(98)80009-x.


A variety of Gram-negative bacteria produce membrane permeant, acylated homoserine lactone (HL) pheromones that act as cell density cues. Synthesis and response to these factors requires proteins homologous to the Luxl acylhomoserine lactone synthase and the LuxR transcription factor from Vibrio fischeri. Recent genetic and biochemical studies have begun to provide a mechanistic understanding of acyl HL dependent gene regulation. Examination of the role of acyl HLs in diverse bacteria positions LuxR-Luxl type systems within an increasingly broad regulatory context and suggests that, in some bacteria, they comprise a global regulatory circuit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / metabolism
  • Acylation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Repressor Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • LuxR autoinducer binding proteins
  • homoserine lactone
  • 4-Butyrolactone