Saccharomyces cerevisiae requires cff1 to produce 4-hydroxy-5-methylfuran-3(2h)-one, a mimic of the bacterial quorum-sensing autoinducer ai-2

Julie S. Valastyan, Christina M. Kraml, Istvan Pelczer, Thomas Ferrante, Bonnie L. Bassler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Quorum sensing is a process of cell-to-cell communication that bacteria use to orchestrate collective behaviors. Quorum sensing depends on the production, release, and detection of extracellular signal molecules called autoinducers (AIs) that accumulate with increasing cell density. While most AIs are species specific, the AI called AI-2 is produced and detected by diverse bacterial species, and it mediates interspecies communication. We recently reported that mammalian cells produce an AI-2 mimic that can be detected by bacteria through the AI-2 receptor LuxP, potentially expanding the role of the AI-2 system to interdomain communication. Here, we describe a second molecule capable of interdomain signaling through LuxP, 4-hydroxy-5-methylfuran-3(2H)-one(MHF),thatisproducedbytheyeastSaccharomyces cerevisiae. Screening the S. cere-visiae deletion collection revealed Cff1p, a protein with no known role, to be required for MHF production. Cff1p is proposed to be an enzyme, with structural similarity to sugar isomerases and epimerases, and substitution at the putative catalytic residue elim-inated MHF production in S. cerevisiae. Sequence analysis uncovered Cff1p homologs in many species, primarily bacterial and fungal, but also viral, archaeal, and higher eukaryo-tic. Cff1p homologs from organisms from all domains can complement a cff1∆ S. cerevi-siae mutant and restore MHF production. In all cases tested, the identified catalytic residue is conserved and required for MHF to be produced. These findings increase the scope of possibilities for interdomain interactions via AI-2 and AI-2 mimics, highlighting the breadth of molecules and organisms that could participate in quorum sensing. IMPORTANCE Quorum sensing is a cell-to-cell communication process that bacteria use to monitor local population density. Quorum sensing relies on extracellular signal molecules called autoinducers (AIs). One AI called AI-2 is broadly made by bacteria and used for interspecies communication. Here, we describe a eukaryotic AI-2 mimic, 4-hydroxy-5-methylfuran-3(2H)-one, (MHF), that is made by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and we identify the Cff1p protein as essential for MHF production. Hundreds of viral, archaeal, bacterial, and eukaryotic organisms possess Cff1p homo-logs. This finding, combined with our results showing that homologs from all domains can replace S. cerevisiae Cff1p, suggests that like AI-2, MHF is widely produced. Our results expand the breadth of organisms that may participate in quorum-sensing-mediated interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere03303-20
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Virology
  • Microbiology


  • Autoinducer
  • Collective behavior
  • Interspecies
  • Quorum sensing
  • Signaling
  • Yeast


Dive into the research topics of 'Saccharomyces cerevisiae requires cff1 to produce 4-hydroxy-5-methylfuran-3(2h)-one, a mimic of the bacterial quorum-sensing autoinducer ai-2'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this