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J Pathog. 2011;2011:549302. doi: 10.4061/2011/549302. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Production of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Intercellular Small Signaling Molecules in Human Burn Wounds.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA ; Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa has developed a complex cell-to-cell communication system that relies on low-molecular weight excreted molecules to control the production of its virulence factors. We previously characterized the transcriptional regulator MvfR, that controls a major network of acute virulence functions in P. aeruginosa through the control of its ligands, the 4-hydroxy-2-alkylquinolines (HAQs)-4-hydroxy-2-heptylquinoline (HHQ) and 3,4-dihydroxy-2-heptylquinoline (PQS). Though HHQ and PQS are produced in infected animals, their ratios differ from those in bacterial cultures. Because these molecules are critical for the potency of activation of acute virulence functions, here we investigated whether they are also produced during human P. aeruginosa acute wound infection and whether their ratio is similar to that observed in P. aeruginosa-infected mice. We found that a clinically relevant P. aeruginosa isolate produced detectable levels of HAQs with ratios of HHQ and PQS that were similar to those produced in burned and infected animals, and not resembling ratios in bacterial cultures. These molecules could be isolated from wound tissue as well as from drainage liquid. These results demonstrate for the first time that HAQs can be isolated and quantified from acute human wound infection sites and validate the relevance of previous studies conducted in mammalian models of infection.

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