Regulation of Gene Expression by Cell-To-Cell Communication: Acyl-Homoserine Lactone Quorum Sensing

Annu Rev Genet. 2001;35:439-68. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.35.102401.090913.

Abstract

Quorum sensing is an example of community behavior prevalent among diverse bacterial species. The term "quorum sensing" describes the ability of a microorganism to perceive and respond to microbial population density, usually relying on the production and subsequent response to diffusible signal molecules. A significant number of gram-negative bacteria produce acylated homoserine lactones (acyl-HSLs) as signal molecules that function in quorum sensing. Bacteria that produce acyl-HSLs can respond to the local concentration of the signaling molecules, and high population densities foster the accumulation of inducing levels of acyl-HSLs. Depending upon the bacterial species, the physiological processes regulated by quorum sensing are extremely diverse, ranging from bioluminescence to swarming motility. Acyl-HSL quorum sensing has become a paradigm for intercellular signaling mechanisms. A flurry of research over the past decade has led to significant understanding of many aspects of quorum sensing including the synthesis of acyl-HSLs, the receptors that recognize the acyl-HSL signal and transduce this information to the level of gene expression, and the interaction of these receptors with the transcriptional machinery. Recent studies have begun to integrate acyl-HSL quorum sensing into global regulatory networks and establish its role in developing and maintaining the structure of bacterial communities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / metabolism*
  • Cell Communication*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction
  • Virulence

Substances

  • homoserine lactone
  • 4-Butyrolactone