Flavonoids suppress Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence through allosteric inhibition of quorum-sensing Receptors

Jon E. Paczkowski, Sampriti Mukherjee, Amelia R. McCready, Jian Ping Cong, Christopher J. Aquino, Hahn Kim, Brad R. Henke, Chari D. Smith, Bonnie Lynn Bassler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Quorum sensing is a process of cell-cell communication that bacteria use to regulate collective behaviors. Quorum sensing depends on the production, detection, and group-wide response to extracellular signal molecules called autoinducers. In many bacterial species, quorum sensing controls virulence factor production. Thus, disrupting quorum sensing is considered a promising strategy to combat bacterial pathogenicity. Several members of a family of naturally produced plant metabolites called flavonoids inhibit Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm formation by an unknown mechanism. Here, we explore this family of molecules further, and we demonstrate that flavonoids specifically inhibit quorum sensing via antagonism of the autoinducer-binding receptors, LasR and RhlR. Structure-activity relationship analyses demonstrate that the presence of two hydroxyl moieties in the flavone A-ring backbone are essential for potent inhibition of LasR/RhlR. Biochemical analyses reveal that the flavonoids function non-competitively to prevent LasR/RhlR DNA binding. Administration of the flavonoids to P. aeruginosa alters transcription of quorum sensing-controlled target promoters and suppresses virulence factor production, confirming their potential as anti-infectives that do not function by traditional bacteriocidal or bacteriostatic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4064-4076
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 10 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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