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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1992 Dec 15;100(1-3):161-7.

Small molecule-mediated density-dependent control of gene expression in prokaryotes: bioluminescence and the biosynthesis of carbapenem antibiotics.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, UK.


Sophisticated signal transduction systems enable prokaryotes to sense their growth environment and mount an appropriate adaptive response. Signal transduction and gene regulation through the phosphorylation of two regulatory components is now recognised as one of the major global regulatory networks in bacteria. However, not all types of sensor-regulator circuits relay information via phosphoryl transfer. The Vibrio fischeri LuxR protein which has previously been characterised as a member of the response-regulator superfamily responds to a small diffusible signal molecule N-(3-oxohexanoyl)homoserine lactone (HSL). Biosynthesis of HSL in V. fischeri is dependent on the expression of the luxI gene. Until recently, the role of HSL as an 'autoinducer' was thought to be restricted to V. fischeri and a few related marine bacteria in which it controls the onset of bioluminescence. However, we have discovered that a diverse group of terrestrial bacteria: (1) produce HSL; (2) possess genes analogous to luxI; and (3) exhibit cell density-dependent induction of bioluminesence when transformed with a recombinant plasmid carrying V. fischeri lux genes but lacking luxI. In one of these, Erwinia carotovora, HSL is shown to mediate the cell density-dependent biosynthesis of a carbapenem antibiotic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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