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Trends Cell Biol. 2004 Nov;14(11):648-56.

Bacterial social engagements.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-1014, USA.


Quorum sensing is a process that enables bacteria to communicate using secreted signaling molecules called autoinducers. This process enables a population of bacteria to regulate gene expression collectively and, therefore, control behavior on a community-wide scale. Quorum sensing is widespread in the bacterial world and, generally, processes controlled by quorum sensing are unproductive when undertaken by an individual bacterium but become effective when undertaken by the group. Cell-cell communication can occur within and between bacterial species, and between bacteria and their eukaryotic hosts, which suggests that the chemical lexicon is complex. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic mechanisms for enhancing and inhibiting quorum sensing have been identified, which suggests that manipulation of quorum-sensing-controlled processes could be common in bacterial-bacterial and bacterial-eukaryotic associations.

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