Active regulation of receptor ratios controls integration of quorum-sensing signals in Vibrio harveyi

Shu Wen Teng, Jessica N. Schaffer, Kimberly C. Tu, Pankaj Mehta, Wenyun Lu, Nai Phuan Ong, Bonnie Lynn Bassler, Ned S. Wingreen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Quorum sensing is a chemical signaling mechanism used by bacteria to communicate and orchestrate group behaviors. Multiple feedback loops exist in the quorum-sensing circuit of the model bacterium Vibrio harveyi. Using fluorescence microscopy of individual cells, we assayed the activity of the quorum-sensing circuit, with a focus on defining the functions of the feedback loops. We quantitatively investigated the signaling input-output relation both in cells with all feedback loops present as well as in mutants with specific feedback loops disrupted. We found that one of the feedback loops regulates receptor ratios to control the integration of multiple signals. Together, the feedback loops affect the input-output dynamic range of signal transmission and the noise in the output. We conclude that V. harveyi employs multiple feedback loops to simultaneously control quorum-sensing signal integration and to ensure signal transmission fidelity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number491
JournalMolecular Systems Biology
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


  • feedback loops
  • quorum sensing
  • signal integration
  • single-cell fluorescence microscopy


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