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Annu Rev Genet. 2001;35:439-68.

Regulation of gene expression by cell-to-cell communication: acyl-homoserine lactone quorum sensing.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA. cfuqua@bio.indiana.edu

Abstract

Quorum sensing is an example of community behavior prevalent among diverse bacterial species. The term "quorum sensing" describes the ability of a microorganism to perceive and respond to microbial population density, usually relying on the production and subsequent response to diffusible signal molecules. A significant number of gram-negative bacteria produce acylated homoserine lactones (acyl-HSLs) as signal molecules that function in quorum sensing. Bacteria that produce acyl-HSLs can respond to the local concentration of the signaling molecules, and high population densities foster the accumulation of inducing levels of acyl-HSLs. Depending upon the bacterial species, the physiological processes regulated by quorum sensing are extremely diverse, ranging from bioluminescence to swarming motility. Acyl-HSL quorum sensing has become a paradigm for intercellular signaling mechanisms. A flurry of research over the past decade has led to significant understanding of many aspects of quorum sensing including the synthesis of acyl-HSLs, the receptors that recognize the acyl-HSL signal and transduce this information to the level of gene expression, and the interaction of these receptors with the transcriptional machinery. Recent studies have begun to integrate acyl-HSL quorum sensing into global regulatory networks and establish its role in developing and maintaining the structure of bacterial communities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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