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J Biol Chem. 2018 Jun 15;293(24):9544-9552. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.002605. Epub 2018 Mar 27.

Spatially dependent alkyl quinolone signaling responses to antibiotics in Pseudomonas aeruginosa swarms.

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From the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences.
the Department of Chemistry and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801.
Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and.
From the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences,
Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 and.


There is a general lack of understanding about how communities of bacteria respond to exogenous toxins such as antibiotics. Most of our understanding of community-level stress responses comes from the study of stationary biofilm communities. Although several community behaviors and production of specific biomolecules affecting biofilm development and associated behavior have been described for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other bacteria, we have little appreciation for the production and dispersal of secreted metabolites within the 2D and 3D spaces they occupy as they colonize, spread, and grow on surfaces. Here we specifically studied the phenotypic responses and spatial variability of alkyl quinolones, including the Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) and members of the alkyl hydroxyquinoline (AQNO) subclass, in P. aeruginosa plate-assay swarming communities. We found that PQS production was not a universal signaling response to antibiotics, as tobramycin elicited an alkyl quinolone response, whereas carbenicillin did not. We also found that PQS and AQNO profiles in response to tobramycin were markedly distinct and influenced these swarms on different spatial scales. At some tobramycin exposures, P. aeruginosa swarms produced alkyl quinolones in the range of 150 μm PQS and 400 μm AQNO that accumulated as aggregates. Our collective findings show that the distribution of alkyl quinolones can vary by several orders of magnitude within the same swarming community. More notably, our results suggest that multiple intercellular signals acting on different spatial scales can be triggered by one common cue.


N-oxide; PQS; Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa); Raman spectroscopy; antibiotics; biofilm; mass spectrometry (MS); quinolone; quorum sensing; secondary ion mass spectrometry; swarming

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