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Microbiology. 2010 Aug;156(Pt 8):2271-82. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.038794-0. Epub 2010 May 20.

Quorum sensing in bacterial virulence.

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Michael Smith Laboratories, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Bacteria communicate through the production of diffusible signal molecules termed autoinducers. The molecules are produced at basal levels and accumulate during growth. Once a critical concentration has been reached, autoinducers can activate or repress a number of target genes. Because the control of gene expression by autoinducers is cell-density-dependent, this phenomenon has been called quorum sensing. Quorum sensing controls virulence gene expression in numerous micro-organisms. In some cases, this phenomenon has proven relevant for bacterial virulence in vivo. In this article, we provide a few examples to illustrate how quorum sensing can act to control bacterial virulence in a multitude of ways. Several classes of autoinducers have been described to date and we present examples of how each of the major types of autoinducer can be involved in bacterial virulence. As quorum sensing controls virulence, it has been considered an attractive target for the development of new therapeutic strategies. We discuss some of the new strategies to combat bacterial virulence based on the inhibition of bacterial quorum sensing systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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