Protoanemonin: a natural quorum sensing inhibitor that selectively activates iron starvation response

Environ Microbiol. 2013 Jan;15(1):111-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02792.x. Epub 2012 Jun 5.


Many Gram-negative bacteria employ cell-to-cell communication mediated by N-acyl homoserine lactones (quorum sensing) to control expression of a wide range of genes including, but not limited to, genes encoding virulence factors. Outside the laboratory, the bacteria live in complex communities where signals may be perceived across species. We here present a newly found natural quorum sensing inhibitor, produced by the pseudomonads Pseudomonas sp. B13 and Pseudomonas reinekei MT1 as a blind end in the biodegradation of organochloride xenobiotics, which inhibits quorum sensing in P. aeruginosa in naturally occurring concentrations. This catabolite, 4-methylenebut-2-en-4-olide, also known as protoanemonin, has been reported to possess antibacterial properties, but seems to have dual functions. Using transcriptomics and proteomics, we found that protoanemonin significantly reduced expression of genes and secretion of proteins known to be under control of quorum sensing in P. aeruginosa. Moreover, we found activation of genes and gene products involved in iron starvation response. It is thus likely that inhibition of quorum sensing, as the production of antibiotics, is a phenomenon found in complex bacterial communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Furans / metabolism*
  • Furans / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial* / drug effects
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Proteome / drug effects
  • Pseudomonas / drug effects
  • Pseudomonas / genetics*
  • Pseudomonas / metabolism*
  • Quorum Sensing / genetics*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Furans
  • Proteome
  • protoanemonin
  • Iron