Controlling the activity of quorum sensing autoinducers with light.
ABSTRACT: Bacteria use a communication system, called quorum sensing (QS), to organize into communities and synchronize gene expression to promote virulence and secure survival. Here we report on a proof-of-principle for externally interfering with this bacterial communication system, using light. By employing photoswitchable small molecules, we were able to photocontrol the QS-related bioluminescence in an Escherichia coli reporter strain, and the expression of target QS genes and pyocyanin production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Project description:Quorum sensing (QS) is a process of cell-to-cell communication that bacteria use to orchestrate collective behaviors. QS relies on the cell-density-dependent production, accumulation, and receptor-mediated detection of extracellular signaling molecules called autoinducers (AIs). Gram-negative bacteria commonly use N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) as their AIs, and they are detected by LuxR-type receptors. Often, LuxR-type receptors are insoluble when not bound to a cognate AI. In this report, we show that LuxR-type receptors are encoded on phage genomes, and in the cases we tested, the phage LuxR-type receptors bind to and are solubilized specifically by the AHL AI produced by the host bacterium. We do not yet know the viral activities that are controlled by these phage QS receptors; however, our observations, coupled with recent reports, suggest that their occurrence is more widespread than previously appreciated. Using receptor-mediated detection of QS AIs could enable phages to garner information concerning the population density status of their bacterial hosts. We speculate that such information can be exploited by phages to optimize the timing of execution of particular steps in viral infection.IMPORTANCE Bacteria communicate with chemical signal molecules to regulate group behaviors in a process called quorum sensing (QS). In this report, we find that genes encoding receptors for Gram-negative bacterial QS communication molecules are present on genomes of viruses that infect these bacteria. These viruses are called phages. We show that two phage-encoded receptors, like their bacterial counterparts, bind to the communication molecule produced by the host bacterium, suggesting that phages can "listen in" on their bacterial hosts. Interfering with bacterial QS and using phages to kill pathogenic bacteria represent attractive possibilities for development of new antimicrobials to combat pathogens that are resistant to traditional antibiotics. Our findings of interactions between phages and QS bacteria need consideration as new antimicrobial therapies are developed.
Project description:Many bacteria use quorum sensing (QS), a bacterial communication system based on the diffusion and perception of small signaling molecules, to synchronize their behavior in a cell-density dependent manner. QS regulates the expression of many genes associated with virulence factor production and biofilm formation. This latter is known to be involved in antibiotic and phage resistance mechanisms. Therefore, disrupting QS, a strategy known as quorum quenching (QQ), appears to be an interesting way to reduce bacterial virulence and increase antibiotic and phage treatment efficiency. In this study, the ability of the QQ enzyme SsoPox-W263I, a lactonase able to degrade acyl-homoserine lactones, was investigated for quenching both virulence and biofilm formation in clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa from diabetic foot ulcers, as well as in the PA14 model strain. These strains were further evolved to resist to bacteriophage cocktails. Overall, 10 antibiotics or bacteriophage resistant strains were evaluated and SsoPox-W263I was shown to decrease pyocyanin, protease and elastase production in all strains. Furthermore, a reduction of more than 70% of biofilm formation was achieved in six out of ten strains. This anti-virulence potential was confirmed in vivo using an amoeba infection model, showing enhanced susceptibility toward amoeba of nine out of ten P. aeruginosa isolates upon QQ. This amoeba model was further used to demonstrate the ability of SsoPox-W263I to enhance the susceptibility of sensitive and phage resistant bacteria to bacteriophage and antibiotic.
Project description:The quorum sensing (QS) system has been used by many opportunistic pathogenic bacteria to coordinate their virulence determinants in relation to cell-population density. As antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise, interference with QS has been regarded as a novel way to control bacterial infections. As such, many plant-based natural products have been widely explored for their therapeutic roles. These natural products may contain anti-QS compounds that could block QS signals generation or transmission to combat QS pathogens. In this study, we report the anti-QS activities of four different Chinese herbal plant extracts: Poria cum Radix pini, Angelica dahurica, Rhizoma cibotii and Schizonepeta tenuifolia, on Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. All the plants extracted using hexane, chloroform and methanol were tested and found to impair swarming motility and pyocyanin production in P.aeruginosa PAO1, particularly by Poria cum Radix pini. In addition, all the plant extracts also inhibited violacein production in C.violaceum CV026 up to 50% while bioluminescence activities were reduced in lux-based E. coli biosensors, pSB401 and pSB1075, up to about 57%. These anti-QS properties of the four medicinal plants are the first documentation that demonstrates a potential approach to attenuate pathogens’ virulence determinants.
Project description:Quorum sensing (QS) is a chemical communication process that Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses to regulate virulence and biofilm formation. Disabling of QS is an emerging approach for combating its pathogenicity. Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) have been widely applied as antimicrobial agents against human pathogenic bacteria and fungi, but not for the attenuation of bacterial QS. Here we mycofabricated AgNPs (mfAgNPs) using metabolites of soil fungus Rhizopus arrhizus BRS-07 and tested their effect on QS-regulated virulence and biofilm formation of P. aeruginosa. Transcriptional studies demonstrated that mfAgNPs reduced the levels of LasIR-RhlIR. Treatment of mfAgNPs inhibited biofilm formation, production of several virulence factors (e.g. LasA protease, LasB elastrase, pyocyanin, pyoverdin, pyochelin, rhamnolipid, and alginate) and reduced AHLs production. Further genes quantification analyses revealed that mfAgNPs significantly down-regulated QS-regulated genes, specifically those encoded to the secretion of virulence factors. The results clearly indicated the anti-virulence property of mfAgNPs by inhibiting P. aeruginosa QS signaling.
Project description:Quorum sensing (QS) is a process enabling a bacterial population to communicate via small molecules called autoinducers (AIs). This intercellular communication process allows single cells to synchronize their behavior within a population. The marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi ATCC BAA-1116 channels the information of three AI signals into one QS cascade. Three receptors perceive these AIs, the hybrid histidine kinases LuxN, Lux(P)Q and CqsS, to transduce the information to the histidine phosphotransfer (HPt) protein LuxU via phosphorelay, and finally to the response regulator LuxO. Hence, the level of phosphorylated LuxO depends on the AI concentrations. The phosphorylated LuxO (P-LuxO) controls the expression of small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs), which together with the RNA chaperon Hfq, destabilize the transcript of the master regulator luxR. LuxR is responsible for the induction and repression of several genes (e.g., for bioluminescence, exoprotease and siderophore production). In vivo studies with various mutants have demonstrated that the ratio between kinase and phosphatase activities of the individual QS receptors and therefore the P-LuxO/LuxO ratio is crucial not only for the output strength but also for the degree of noise. This study was undertaken to better understand the inherent design principles of this complex signaling cascade, which allows sensing and integration of different signals, but also the differentiated output in individual cells. Therefore, we quantitatively analyzed not only the enzymatic activities, but also the abundance and localization of the three QS receptors. We found that LuxN presents the highest capacity to phosphorylate LuxU, while the phosphatase activity was comparable to LuxQ and CqsS in vitro. In whole cells the copy number of LuxN was higher than that of LuxQ and CqsS, and further increased in the late exponential growth phase. Microscopy experiments indicate that LuxN and LuxQ form independent clusters. Altogether, these results suggest, that the three QS receptors act in parallel, and V. harveyi has developed with LuxN the most dynamic sensing range for HAI-1, the species-specific AI.
Project description:Quorum sensing (QS) is a communication process that enables a bacterial population to coordinate and synchronize specific behaviors. The bioluminescent marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi integrates three autoinducer (AI) signals into one quorum-sensing cascade comprising a phosphorelay involving three hybrid sensor kinases: LuxU; LuxO, an Hfq/small RNA (sRNA) switch; and the transcriptional regulator LuxR. Using a new set of V. harveyi mutants lacking genes for the AI synthases and/or sensors, we assayed the activity of the quorum-sensing cascade at the population and single-cell levels, with a specific focus on signal integration and noise levels. We found that the ratios of kinase activities to phosphatase activities of the three sensors and, hence, the extent of phosphorylation of LuxU/LuxO are important not only for the signaling output but also for the degree of noise in the system. The pools of phosphorylated LuxU/LuxO per cell directly determine the amounts of sRNAs produced and, consequently, the copy number of LuxR, generating heterogeneous quorum-sensing activation at the single-cell level. We conclude that the ability to drive the heterogeneous expression of QS-regulated genes in V. harveyi is an inherent feature of the architecture of the QS cascade.V. harveyi possesses one of the most complex quorum-sensing (QS) cascades known, using three different autoinducers (AIs) to control the induction of, e.g., bioluminescence, virulence factors, and biofilm and exoprotease production. We constructed various V. harveyi mutants to study the impact of each component and subsystem of the QS signaling cascade on QS activation at the population and single-cell levels. We found that the output was homogeneous only in the presence of all AIs. In the absence of any one AI, QS activation varied from cell to cell, resulting in phenotypic heterogeneity. This study elucidates a molecular design principle which enables a tightly integrated signaling cascade to control the expression of diverse phenotypes within a genetically homogeneous population.
Project description:Pseudomonas aeruginosa is known as an opportunistic pathogen that often causes persistent infections associated with high level of antibiotic-resistance and biofilms formation. Chemical interference with bacterial cell-to-cell communication, termed quorum sensing (QS), has been recognized as an attractive approach to control infections and address the drug resistance problems currently observed worldwide. Instead of imposing direct selective pressure on bacterial growth, the right bioactive compounds can preferentially block QS-based communication and attenuate cascades of bacterial gene expression and production of virulence factors, thus leading to reduced pathogenicity. Herein, we report on the potential of itaconimides as quorum sensing inhibitors (QSI) of P. aeruginosa. An initial hit was discovered in a screening program of an in-house compound collection, and subsequent structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies provided analogs that could reduce expression of central QS-regulated virulence factors (elastase, rhamnolipid, and pyocyanin), and also successfully lead to the eradication of P. aeruginosa biofilms in combination with tobramycin. Further studies on the cytotoxicity of compounds using murine macrophages indicated no toxicity at common working concentrations, thereby pointing to the potential of these small molecules as promising entities for antimicrobial drug development.
Project description:Virulence factors and biofilms constitute attractive targets for the prevention of infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria. Among alkyl gallates, propyl gallate (PG) and octyl gallate (OG) are used as food preservatives. Here we found that alkyl gallates differentially affect virulence, biofilm formation, and quorum sensing (QS) in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Ethyl gallate (EG), PG, and butyl gallate (BG) inhibited biofilm formation and virulence factors including elastase, pyocyanin, and rhamnolipid, in P. aeruginosa without affecting cell viability by antagonizing the QS receptors LasR and RhlR. PG exhibited the most potent activity. Interestingly, hexyl gallate (HG) inhibited the production of rhamnolipid and pyocyanin but did not affect elastase production or biofilm formation. Notably, OG inhibited the production of rhamnolipid and pyocyanin but stimulated elastase production and biofilm formation. Analysis of QS signaling molecule production and QS gene expression suggested that HG inhibited RhlR, while OG activated LasR but inhibited PqsR. This mechanism was confirmed using QS mutants. Additionally, PG prevented the virulence of P. aeruginosa in Caenorhabditis elegans and a mouse model. This is the first report of the differential effects of alkyl gallates on QS systems and PG has great potential as an inhibitor of the virulence and biofilm formation of P. aeruginosa.
Project description:Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid naturally present in trace amounts in the Cannabis plant. So far, CBG has been shown to exert diverse activities in eukaryotes. However, much less is known about its effects on prokaryotes. In this study, we investigated the potential role of CBG as an anti-biofilm and anti-quorum sensing agent against Vibrio harveyi. Quorum sensing (QS) is a cell-to-cell communication system among bacteria that involves small signaling molecules called autoinducers, enabling bacteria to sense the surrounding environment. The autoinducers cause alterations in gene expression and induce bioluminescence, pigment production, motility and biofilm formation. The effect of CBG was tested on V. harveyi grown under planktonic and biofilm conditions. CBG reduced the QS-regulated bioluminescence and biofilm formation of V. harveyi at concentrations not affecting the planktonic bacterial growth. CBG also reduced the motility of V. harveyi in a dose-dependent manner. We further observed that CBG increased LuxO expression and activity, with a concomitant 80% downregulation of the LuxR gene. Exogenous addition of autoinducers could not overcome the QS-inhibitory effect of CBG, suggesting that CBG interferes with the transmission of the autoinducer signals. In conclusion, our study shows that CBG is a potential anti-biofilm agent via inhibition of the QS cascade.
Project description:Inflammasome signaling can contribute to host innate immune defense against bacterial pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, bacterial evasion of host inflammasome activation is still poorly elucidated. Quorum sensing (QS) is a bacterial communication mechanism that promotes coordinated adaptation by triggering expression of a wide range of genes. QS is thought to strongly contribute to the virulence of P.?aeruginosa, but the molecular impact of bacterial QS on host inflammasome defense is completely unknown. Here, we present evidence that QS-related factors of the bacterial secretant (BS) from P. aeruginosa can dampen host inflammasome signaling in mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages. We found that BS from QS-defective ?lasR/rhlR mutant, but not from wild-type (WT) P. aeruginosa, induces robust activation of the NLRC4 inflammasome. P. aeruginosa-released flagellin mediates this inflammasome activation by ?lasR/rhlR secretant, but QS-regulated bacterial proteases in the WT BS impair extracellular flagellin to attenuate NLRC4 inflammasome activation. P. aeruginosa-secreted proteases also degrade inflammasome components in the extracellular space to inhibit the propagation of inflammasome-mediated responses. Furthermore, QS-regulated virulence factor pyocyanin and QS autoinducer 3-oxo-C12-homoserine lactone directly suppressed NLRC4- and even NLRP3-mediated inflammasome assembly and activation. Taken together, our data indicate that QS system of P. aeruginosa facilitates bacteria to evade host inflammasome-dependent sensing machinery.