A Bacterial Cell to Cell Signal in the Lungs of Cystic Fibrosis Patients

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2002 Sep 24;215(1):41-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2002.tb11367.x.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that is a major cause of mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. This bacterium has numerous genes controlled by cell to cell signaling, which occurs through a complex circuitry of interconnected regulatory systems. One of the signals is the Pseudomonas Quinolone Signal (PQS), which was identified as 2-heptyl-3-hydroxy-4-quinolone. This intercellular signal controls the expression of multiple virulence factors and is required for virulence in an insect model of P. aeruginosa infection. Previous studies have implied that the intercellular signals of P. aeruginosa are important for human disease, and our goal was to determine whether PQS was produced during human infections. In this report, three types of samples from CF patients infected with P. aeruginosa were analyzed for the presence of PQS. Sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and mucopurulent fluid from distal airways of end-stage lungs removed at transplant, all contained PQS, indicating that this cell to cell signal is produced in vivo by P. aeruginosa infecting the lungs of CF patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism*
  • Quinolones / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Sputum / metabolism
  • Sputum / microbiology


  • 2-heptyl-3-hydroxy-4-quinolone
  • Quinolones