Quorum quenching enzymes and their effects on virulence, biofilm, and microbiomes: a review of recent advances

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2020 Dec;18(12):1221-1233. doi: 10.1080/14787210.2020.1794815. Epub 2020 Aug 4.


Introduction: Numerous bacterial behaviors are regulated by a cell-density dependent mechanism known as Quorum Sensing (QS). QS relies on communication between bacterial cells using diffusible signaling molecules known as autoinducers. QS regulates physiological processes such as metabolism, virulence, and biofilm formation. Quorum Quenching (QQ) is the inhibition of QS using chemical or enzymatic means to counteract behaviors regulated by QS.

Areas covered: We examine the main, diverse QS mechanisms present in bacterial species, with a special emphasis on AHL-mediated QS. We also discuss key in vitro and in vivo systems in which interference in QS was investigated. Additionally, we highlight promising developments, such as the substrate preference of the used enzymatic quencher, in the application of interference in QS to counter bacterial virulence.

Expert opinion: Enabled via the recent isolation of highly stable quorum quenching enzymes and/or molecular engineering efforts, the effects of the interference in QS were recently evaluated outside of the traditional model of single species culture. Signal disruption in complex microbial communities was shown to result in the disruption of complex microbial behaviors, and changes in population structures. These new findings, and future studies, may result in significant changes in the traditional views about QS.

Keywords: Quorum quenching (QQ); Quorum sensing (QS); lactonase; microbiome; signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Biofilms*
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / physiology
  • Quorum Sensing / physiology*
  • Virulence / physiology