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Gene. 1992 Jul 1;116(1):87-91.

A general role for the lux autoinducer in bacterial cell signalling: control of antibiotic biosynthesis in Erwinia.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, U.K.


Micro-organisms have evolved complex and diverse mechanisms to sense environmental changes. Activation of a sensory mechanism typically leads to alterations in gene expression facilitating an adaptive response. This may take several forms, but many are mediated by response-regulator proteins. The luxR-encoded protein (LuxR) has previously been characterised as a member of the response-regulator superfamily and is known to respond to the small diffusible autoinducer signal molecule N-(beta-ketocaproyl) homoserine lactone (KHL). Observed previously in only a few marine bacteria, we now report that KHL is in fact produced by a diverse group of terrestrial bacteria. In one of these (Erwinia carotovora), we show that it acts as a molecular control signal for the expression of genes controlling carbapenem antibiotic biosynthesis. This represents the first substantive evidence to support the previous postulate that the lux autoinducer, KHL, is widely involved in bacterial signalling.

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