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Brameyer, Sophie; Plener, Laure; Müller, Axel; Klingl, Andreas; Wanner, Gerhard; Jung, Kirsten (2018): Outer Membrane Vesicles Facilitate Trafficking of the Hydrophobic Signaling Molecule CAI-1 between Vibrio harveyi Cells. In: Journal of Bacteriology, Vol. 200, No. 15, e00740-17
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Abstract

Many bacteria use extracellular signaling molecules to coordinate group behavior, a process referred to as quorum sensing (QS). However, some QS molecules are hydrophobic in character and are probably unable to diffuse across the bacterial cell envelope. How these molecules are disseminated between bacterial cells within a population is not yet fully understood. Here, we show that the marine pathogen Vibrio harveyi packages the hydrophobic QS molecule CAI-1, a long-chain amino ketone, into outer membrane vesicles. Electron micrographs indicate that outer membrane vesicles of variable size are predominantly produced and released into the surroundings during the stationary phase of V. harveyi, which correlates with the timing of CAI-1-dependent signaling. The large vesicles (diameter, <55 nm) can trigger a QS phenotype in CAI-1-nonproducing V. harveyi and Vibrio cholerae cells. Packaging of CAI-1 into outer membrane vesicles might stabilize the molecule in aqueous environments and facilitate its distribution over distances. IMPORTANCE Formation of membrane vesicles is ubiquitous among bacteria. These vesicles are involved in protein and DNA transfer and offer new approaches for vaccination. Gram-negative bacteria use hydrophobic signaling molecules, among others, for cell-cell communication;however, due to their hydrophobic character, it is unclear how these molecules are disseminated between bacterial cells. Here, we show that the marine pathogen Vibrio harveyi packages one of its QS molecules, the long-chain ketone CAI-1, into outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). Isolated CAI-1-containing vesicles trigger a QS phenotype in CAI-1 nonproducing V. harveyi and also in Vibrio cholerae cells. Packaging of CAI-1 into OMVs not only solubilizes, stabilizes, and concentrates this class of molecules, but facilitate their distribution between bacteria that live in aqueous environments.