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Microbiology. 2003 Jul;149(Pt 7):1859-1869. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.26185-0.

Production of the signalling molecule, autoinducer-2, by Neisseria meningitidis: lack of evidence for a concerted transcriptional response.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie, INSERM U570, Faculté de Médecine Necker-Enfants Malades, 75015 Paris, France.


Neisseria meningitidis is a Gram-negative bacterium which is an important causative agent of septicaemia and meningitis. LuxS has been shown to be involved in the biosynthesis of a quorum sensing molecule, autoinducer-2 (AI-2), known to play a role in virulence in Escherichia coli, as well as other bacteria. Evidence that serogroup B of N. meningitidis produces AI-2, along with the observation that a luxS mutant of this strain had attenuated virulence in an infant rat model of bacteraemia, led to further investigation of the role of this quorum sensing molecule in N. meningitidis. In this study, it is demonstrated that AI-2 is not involved in regulating growth of meningococci, either in culture or in contact with epithelial cells. Furthermore, transcriptional profiling using DNA microarrays shows an absence of the concerted regulation seen in other bacteria. Taken together, these data suggest that in N. meningitidis, AI-2 may be a metabolic by-product and not a cell-to-cell signalling molecule.

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