Bacterial cells exhibit a complex pattern of co-operative behaviour as shown by their capacity to communicate amongst each other. Quorum sensing (QS) is a generic term used for bacterial cell-to-cell communication which secures survival of its species. Many QS bacteria produce and release autoinducers like acyl-homoserine lactone-signaling molecules to regulate cell population density. Different species of bacteria utilize different QS molecules to regulate its gene expression. A free-living marine bacterium, Vibrio harveyi, uses two QS system to control the density-dependent expression of bioluminescence (lux), commonly classified as sensor and autoinducer system. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, QS not only controls virulence factor production but also biofilm formation. It is comprised two hierarchically organised systems, each consisting of an autoinducer synthetase (LasI/RhlI) and a corresponding regulator protein (LasR/RhlR). Biofilms produced by Pseudomonas, under control of QS, are ubiquitous in nature and contribute towards colonizations in patients of cystic fibrosis. Other organisms like Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus also utilize QS mechanism to control virulence in otitis and endocarditic decay. Overall, QS plays a major role in controlling bacterial economy. It is a simple, practical and effective mechanism of production and control. If the concentration of enzyme is critical, bacteria can sense it and perform a prompt activation or repression of certain target genes for controlling its environment. This review focuses on the QS mechanisms and their role in the survival of few important bacterial species.
Key words: Quorum sensing (QS), quorum sensing peptides (QSPs), auto-inducer 1 (AI-1), auto-inducer 2 (AI-2), acyl homoserine lactone (AHL).
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