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J Bacteriol. 2000 May;182(10):2702-8.

The Pseudomonas quinolone signal regulates rhl quorum sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, East Carolina University School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina 27858, USA.


The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses intercellular signals to control the density-dependent expression of many virulence factors. The las and rhl quorum-sensing systems function, respectively, through the autoinducers N-(3-oxododecanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone and N-butyryl-L-homoserine lactone (C(4)-HSL), which are known to positively regulate the transcription of the elastase-encoding gene, lasB. Recently, we reported that a second type of intercellular signal is involved in lasB induction. This signal was identified as 2-heptyl-3-hydroxy-4-quinolone and designated the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS). PQS was determined to be part of the quorum-sensing hierarchy since its production and bioactivity depended on the las and rhl quorum-sensing systems, respectively. In order to define the role of PQS in the P. aeruginosa quorum-sensing cascade, lacZ gene fusions were used to determine the effect of PQS on the transcription of the quorum-sensing system genes lasR, lasI, rhlR, and rhlI. We found that in P. aeruginosa, PQS caused a major induction of rhlI'-lacZ and had lesser effects on the transcription of lasR'-lacZ and rhlR'-lacZ. We also observed that the transcription of both rhlI'-lacZ and lasB'-lacZ was cooperatively effected by C(4)-HSL and PQS. Additionally, we present data indicating that PQS was not produced maximally until cultures reached the late stationary phase of growth. Taken together, our results imply that PQS acts as a link between the las and rhl quorum-sensing systems and that this signal is not involved in sensing cell density.

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