Transcriptome analysis of acyl-homoserine lactone-based quorum sensing regulation in Yersinia pestis [corrected]

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 19;8(4):e62337. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062337. Print 2013.


The etiologic agent of bubonic plague, Yersinia pestis, senses self-produced, secreted chemical signals in a process named quorum sensing. Though the closely related enteric pathogen Y. pseudotuberculosis uses quorum sensing system to regulate motility, the role of quorum sensing in Y. pestis has been unclear. In this study we performed transcriptional profiling experiments to identify Y. pestis quorum sensing regulated functions. Our analysis revealed that acyl-homoserine lactone-based quorum sensing controls the expression of several metabolic functions. Maltose fermentation and the glyoxylate bypass are induced by acyl-homoserine lactone signaling. This effect was observed at 30°C, indicating a potential role for quorum sensing regulation of metabolism at temperatures below the normal mammalian temperature. It is proposed that utilization of alternative carbon sources may enhance growth and/or survival during prolonged periods in natural habitats with limited nutrient sources, contributing to maintenance of plague in nature.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / pharmacology
  • Acyl-Butyrolactones / pharmacology*
  • Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Fermentation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects*
  • Glyoxylates / metabolism
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Quorum Sensing / drug effects
  • Quorum Sensing / genetics*
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation / genetics
  • Yersinia pestis / cytology*
  • Yersinia pestis / genetics*
  • Yersinia pestis / growth & development
  • Yersinia pestis / metabolism


  • Acetates
  • Acyl-Butyrolactones
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fatty Acids
  • Glyoxylates
  • Carbon