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J R Soc Interface. 2017 Mar;15(140). pii: 20170945. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2017.0945.

Switches induced by quorum sensing in a model of enzyme-loaded microparticles.

Author information

1
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 3JD, UK.
2
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 3JD, UK a.f.taylor@sheffield.ac.uk.

Abstract

Quorum sensing refers to the ability of bacteria and other single-celled organisms to respond to changes in cell density or number with population-wide changes in behaviour. Here, simulations were performed to investigate quorum sensing in groups of diffusively coupled enzyme microparticles using a well-characterized autocatalytic reaction which raises the pH of the medium: hydrolysis of urea by urease. The enzyme urease is found in both plants and microorganisms, and has been widely exploited in engineering processes. We demonstrate how increases in group size can be used to achieve a sigmoidal switch in pH at high enzyme loading, oscillations in pH at intermediate enzyme loading and a bistable, hysteretic switch at low enzyme loading. Thus, quorum sensing can be exploited to obtain different types of response in the same system, depending on the enzyme concentration. The implications for microorganisms in colonies are discussed, and the results could help in the design of synthetic quorum sensing for biotechnology applications such as drug delivery.

KEYWORDS:

enzyme microparticles; feedback; oscillations; quorum sensing; switches

PMID:
29514986
PMCID:
PMC5905404
DOI:
10.1098/rsif.2017.0945
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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