Pyrones as bacterial signaling molecules.

TitlePyrones as bacterial signaling molecules.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBrachmann, AO, Brameyer, S, Kresovic, D, Hitkova, I, Kopp, Y, Manske, C, Schubert, K, Bode, HB, Heermann, R
JournalNat Chem Biol
Date Published2013 Sep
KeywordsAmino Acid Sequence, Bacterial Proteins, Escherichia coli, Models, Molecular, Molecular Sequence Data, Operon, Photorhabdus, Pyrones, Quorum Sensing, Signal Transduction

Bacteria communicate via small diffusible molecules and thereby mediate group-coordinated behavior, a process referred to as quorum sensing. The prototypical quorum sensing system found in Gram-negative bacteria consists of a LuxI-type autoinducer synthase that produces N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) as signals and a LuxR-type receptor that detects the AHLs to control expression of specific genes. However, many proteobacteria have proteins with homology to LuxR receptors yet lack any cognate LuxI-like AHL synthase. Here we show that in the insect pathogen Photorhabdus luminescens the orphan LuxR-type receptor PluR detects endogenously produced α-pyrones that serve as signaling molecules at low nanomolar concentrations. Additionally, the ketosynthase PpyS was identified as pyrone synthase. Reconstitution of the entire system containing PluR, the PluR-target operon we termed pcf and PpyS in Escherichia coli demonstrated that the cell-cell communication circuit is portable. Our research thus deorphanizes a signaling system and suggests that additional modes of bacterial communication may await discovery.

Alternate JournalNat. Chem. Biol.