Acta biochimica Polonica

Quenching of acyl-homoserine lactone-dependent quorum sensing by enzymatic disruption of signal molecules.

PMID 19287806


Many Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria communicate using small diffusible signal molecules called autoinducers. This process, known as quorum sensing (QS), links cell density to the expression of genes as diverse as those associated with virulence factors production of plant and animal pathogens, bioluminescence, antibiotic production, sporulation or biofilm formation. In Gram-negative bacteria, this communication is mainly mediated by N-acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs). It has been proven that inactivation of the signal molecules attenuates many of the processes controlled by QS. Enzymatic degradation of the signal molecules has been amply described. Two main classes of AHL-inactivating enzymes were identified: AHL lactonases which hydrolyse the lactone ring in AHLs, and AHL acylases (syn. AHL amidases) which liberate a free homoserine lactone and a fatty acid. Recently, AHL oxidoreductase, a novel type of AHL inactivating enzyme, was described. The activity of these enzymes results in silencing the QS-regulated processes, as degradation products cannot act as signal molecules. The ability to inactivate AHL (quorum quenching, QQ) might be useful in controlling virulence of many pathogenic bacteria.