Quorum sensing, a process of bacterial cell-cell communication, relies on production, detection, and response to autoinducer signaling molecules. LuxN, a nine-transmembrane domain protein from Vibrio harveyi, is the founding example of membrane-bound receptors for acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) autoinducers. We used mutagenesis and suppressor analyses to identify the AHL-binding domain of LuxN and discovered LuxN mutants that confer both decreased and increased AHL sensitivity. Our analysis of dose-response curves of multiple LuxN mutants pins these inverse phenotypes on quantifiable opposing shifts in the free-energy bias of LuxN for occupying its kinase and phosphatase states. To understand receptor activation and to characterize the pathway signaling parameters, we exploited a strong LuxN antagonist, one of fifteen small-molecule antagonists we identified. We find that quorum-sensing-mediated communication can be manipulated positively and negatively to control bacterial behavior and, more broadly, that signaling parameters can be deduced from in vivo data.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)