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Tiaden, Andre; Hilbi, Hubert (March 2012): α-Hydroxyketone Synthesis and Sensing by Legionella and Vibrio., alpha-Hydroxyketone Synthesis and Sensing by Legionella and Vibrio. In: Sensors, Vol. 12, No. 3: pp. 2899-2919




Bacteria synthesize and sense low molecular weight signaling molecules, termed autoinducers, to measure their population density and community complexity. One class of autoinducers, the α-hydroxyketones (AHKs), is produced and detected by the water-borne opportunistic pathogens Legionella pneumophila and Vibrio cholerae, which cause Legionnaires' disease and cholera, respectively. The "Legionella quorum sensing" (lqs) or "cholera quorum sensing" (cqs) genes encode enzymes that produce and sense the AHK molecules "Legionella autoinducer-1" (LAI-1; 3-hydroxypentadecane-4-one) or cholera autoinducer-1 (CAI-1; 3-hydroxytridecane-4-one). AHK signaling regulates the virulence of L. pneumophila and V. cholerae, pathogen-host cell interactions, formation of biofilms or extracellular filaments, expression of a genomic "fitness island" and competence. Here, we outline the processes, wherein AHK signaling plays a role, and review recent insights into the function of proteins encoded by the lqs and cqs gene clusters. To this end, we will focus on the autoinducer synthases catalysing the biosynthesis of AHKs, on the cognate trans-membrane sensor kinases detecting the signals, and on components of the down-stream phosphorelay cascade that promote the transmission and integration of signaling events regulating gene expression.