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Microbiology. 2004 Jun;150(Pt 6):1901-10.

luxS mutants of Serratia defective in autoinducer-2-dependent 'quorum sensing' show strain-dependent impacts on virulence and production of carbapenem and prodigiosin.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QW, UK.


The enzyme LuxS is responsible for the production of autoinducer-2 (AI-2), a molecule that has been implicated in quorum sensing in many bacterial species. This study investigated whether there is a luxS-dependent signalling system in the Gram-negative bacteria Serratia spp. Serratia marcescens is a broad-host-range pathogen and an important cause of nosocomial infections. Production of AI-2 activity was detected in S. marcescens ATCC 274 and Serratia ATCC 39006 and their luxS genes were sequenced. luxS mutants were constructed in these strains and were analysed to determine which phenotypes are regulated by luxS and therefore, potentially, by AI-2. The phenotypes of the luxS mutants included decreased carbapenem antibiotic production in Serratia ATCC 39006 and decreased prodigiosin and secreted haemolysin production in S. marcescens ATCC 274. The luxS mutant of S. marcescens ATCC 274 was also found to exhibit modestly reduced virulence in a Caenorhabditis elegans model. Finally, it was shown that the culture supernatant of a wild-type strain contains a signal, presumably AI-2, capable of complementing the prodigiosin defect of the luxS mutant of another strain, even when substantially diluted. It is concluded that luxS modulates virulence and antibiotic production in Serratia, in a strain-dependent manner, and that, for at least one phenotype, this regulation is via extracellular signalling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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