Bacterial quorum sensing is mediated by low molecular-weight signals and plays a critical role in both the pathogenesis of infectious disease and beneficial symbioses. There is significant interest in the development of synthetic ligands that can intercept bacterial quorum sensing signals and modulate these outcomes. Here, we report the design and comparative analysis of the effects of approximately 90 synthetic N-acylated homoserine lactones (AHLs) on quorum sensing in three Gram negative bacterial species and a critical examination of the structural features of these ligands that dictate agonistic and antagonistic activity, and selectivity for different R protein targets. These studies have revealed the most comprehensive set of structure-activity relationships to date that direct AHL-mediated quorum sensing and a new set of chemical probes with which to study this complex signaling process. Furthermore, this work provides a foundation on which to design next-generation quorum sensing modulators with improved activities and selectivities.
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