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Microbiology. 2003 Feb;149(Pt 2):471-83.

Quorum-sensing-directed protein expression in Serratia proteamaculans B5a.

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  • 1Section of Molecular Microbiology, BioCentrum-DTU, Building 301, Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800, Kgs Lyngby, Denmark.


N-Acyl-L-homoserine-lactone-producing Serratia species are frequently encountered in spoiling foods of vegetable and protein origin. The role of quorum sensing in the food spoiling properties of these bacteria is currently being investigated. A set of luxR luxI homologous genes encoding a putative quorum sensor was identified in the N-(3-oxo-hexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL)-producing Serratia proteamaculans strain B5a. The 3-oxo-C6-HSL synthase SprI showed 79 % similarity with EsaI from Pantoea stewartii and the putative regulatory protein SprR was 86 % similar to the SpnR of Serratia marcescens. Proteome analysis suggested that the presence of at least 39 intracellular proteins was affected by the 3-oxo-C6-HSL-based quorum sensing system. The lipB-encoded secretion system was identified as one target gene of the quorum sensing system. LipB was required for the production of extracellular lipolytic and proteolytic activities, thus rendering the production of food-deterioration-relevant exoenzymes indirectly under the control of quorum sensing. Strain B5a caused quorum-sensing-controlled spoilage of milk. Furthermore, chitinolytic activity was controlled by quorum sensing. This control appeared to be direct and not mediated via LipB. The data presented here demonstrate that quorum-sensing-controlled exoenzymic activities affect food quality.

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