LuxR-family 'solos': bachelor sensors/regulators of signalling molecules

Microbiology. 2009 May;155(Pt 5):1377-1385. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.026849-0. Epub 2009 Apr 21.


N-Acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) quorum-sensing (QS) signalling is the best-understood chemical language in proteobacteria. In the last 15 years a large amount of research in several bacterial species has revealed in detail the genetic, molecular and biochemical mechanisms underlying AHL signalling. These studies have revealed the role played by protein pairs of the AHL synthase belonging to the LuxI family and cognate LuxR-family AHL sensor-regulator. Proteobacteria however commonly possess a QS LuxR-family protein for which there is no obvious cognate LuxI synthase; these proteins are found in bacteria which possess a complete AHL QS system(s) as well as in bacteria that do not. Scientists are beginning to address the roles played by these proteins and it is emerging that they could allow bacteria to respond to endogenous and exogenous signals produced by their neighbours. AHL QS research thus far has mainly focused on a cell-density response involving laboratory monoculture studies. Recent findings on the role played by the unpaired LuxR-family proteins highlight the need to address bacterial behaviour and response to signals in mixed communities. Here we review recent progress with respect to these LuxR proteins, which we propose to call LuxR 'solos' since they act on their own without the need for a cognate signal generator. Initial investigations have revealed that LuxR solos have diverse roles in bacterial interspecies and interkingdom communication.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives
  • 4-Butyrolactone / metabolism
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Multigene Family*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


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