Secondary metabolites and other small molecules as intercellular pathogenic signals

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2011 Jan;314(1):10-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2010.02154.x. Epub 2010 Nov 29.


Microorganisms often use small chemicals or secondary metabolites as informational cues to regulate gene expression. It is hypothesized that microorganisms exploit these signals to gain a competitive advantage. Here, we present examples of pathogens that use this strategy to exclude other microorganisms from the site of infection. An emerging theme is that inhibiting these systems presents a novel approach to antimicrobial therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mycoses / microbiology*
  • Signal Transduction*