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Microb Pathog. 2008 Nov-Dec;45(5-6):343-54. doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2008.08.007. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

Mutation in the S-ribosylhomocysteinase (luxS) gene involved in quorum sensing affects biofilm formation and virulence in a clinical isolate of Aeromonas hydrophila.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA.


A diarrheal isolate SSU of Aeromonas hydrophila produces a cytotoxic enterotoxin (Act) with cytotoxic, enterotoxic, and hemolytic activities. Our laboratory has characterized from the above Aeromonas strain, in addition to Act, the type 3- and T6-secretion systems and their effectors, as well as the genes shown to modulate the production of AI-1-like autoinducers, N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) involved in quorum sensing (QS). In this study, we demonstrated the presence of an S-ribosylhomocysteinase (LuxS)-based autoinducer (AI)-2 QS system in A. hydrophila SSU and its contribution to bacterial virulence. The luxS isogenic mutant of A. hydrophila, which we prepared by marker exchange mutagenesis, showed an alteration in the dynamics and architecture of the biofilm formation, a decrease in the motility of the bacterium, and an enhanced virulence in the septicemic mouse model. Moreover, these effects of the mutation could be complemented. Enhanced production of the biofilm exopolysaccharide and filaments in the mutant strain were presumably the major causes of the observed phenotype. Our earlier studies indicated that the wild-type A. hydrophila with overproduction of DNA adenine methyltransferase (Dam) had significantly reduced motility, greater hemolytic activity associated with Act, and an enhanced ability to produce AI-1 lactones. Furthermore, such a Dam-overproducing strain was not lethal to mice. On the contrary, the luxS mutant with Dam overproduction showed an increased motility and had no effect on lactone production. In addition, the Dam-overproducing luxS mutant strain was not altered in its ability to induce lethality in a mouse model of infection when compared to the parental strain which overproduced Dam. We suggested that an altered gene expression in the luxS mutant of A. hydrophila SSU, as it related to biofilm formation and virulence, might be linked with the interruption of the bacterial metabolic pathway, specifically of methionine synthesis.

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