Bacteria-host communication

The language of hormones

Vanessa Sperandio, Alfredo Torres, Bruce Jarvis, James P. Nataro, James B. Kaper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

576 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The interbacterial communication system known as quorum sensing (QS) utilizes hormone-like compounds referred to as autoinducers to regulate bacterial gene expression. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) serotype O157:H7 is the agent responsible for outbreaks of bloody diarrhea in several countries. We previously proposed that EHEC uses a QS regulatory system to "sense" that it is within the intestine and activate genes essential for intestinal colonization. The QS system used by EHEC is the LuxS/autoinducer 2 (Al-2) system extensively involved in interspecies communication. The autoinducer Al-2 is a furanosyl borate diester whose synthesis depends on the enzyme LuxS. Here we show that an EHEC luxS mutant, unable to produce the bacterial autoinducer, still responds to a eukaryotic cell signal to activate expression of its virulence genes. We have identified this signal as the hormone epinephrine and show that β- and α-adrenergic antagonists can block the bacterial response to this hormone. Furthermore, using purified and in vitro synthesized Al-2 we showed that Al-2 is not the autoinducer involved in the bacterial signaling. EHEC produces another, previously undescribed autoinducer (Al-3) whose synthesis depends on the presence of LuxS. These results imply a potential cross-communication between the luxS/Al-3 bacterial QS system and the epinephrine host signaling system. Given that eukaryotic cell-to-cell signaling typically occurs through hormones, and that bacterial cell-to-cell signaling occurs through QS, we speculate that QS might be a "language" by which bacteria and host cells communicate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8951-8956
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume100
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 22 2003
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Quorum Sensing
Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli
Language
Communication
Hormones
Bacteria
Eukaryotic Cells
Epinephrine
Bacterial Genes
Borates
Adrenergic Antagonists
Escherichia coli O157
Essential Genes
Intestines
Disease Outbreaks
Virulence
Diarrhea
Gene Expression
Enzymes
Genes

Keywords

  • Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli
  • Epinephrine
  • Quorum sensing
  • Type III secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General

Cite this

Bacteria-host communication : The language of hormones. / Sperandio, Vanessa; Torres, Alfredo; Jarvis, Bruce; Nataro, James P.; Kaper, James B.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 100, No. 15, 22.07.2003, p. 8951-8956.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sperandio, Vanessa ; Torres, Alfredo ; Jarvis, Bruce ; Nataro, James P. ; Kaper, James B. / Bacteria-host communication : The language of hormones. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2003 ; Vol. 100, No. 15. pp. 8951-8956.
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