Detection of a luxS-signaling molecule in Bacillus anthracis

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Quorum-sensing regulation of density-dependent genes has been described for numerous bacterial species. The partially annotated genome sequence of Bacillus anthracis contains an open reading frame (BA5047) predicted to encode an ortholog of luxS, required for synthesis of the quorum-sensing signaling molecule autoinducer-2 (AI-2). To determine whether B. anthracis produces AI-2, the Vibrio harveyi luminescence bioassay was used. Cell-free conditioned media from vaccine (Sterne) strain 34F2 induced luminescence in V. harveyi reporter strain BB170, indicating its production of AI-2. Cloned BA5047, expressed in Escherichia coli DH5α cells, restored AI-2 activity to these cells. To evaluate whether BA5047 is essential for AI-2 synthesis, it was deleted through allelic exchange with marker rescue; the resulting mutant had no functional luxS activity and had reduced growth in vitro. In the wild-type strain, AI-2 activity was greatest during the exponential phase of growth. In total, these data indicate that BA5047 is a functional luxS ortholog in B. anthracis necessary for growth-phase-specific AI-2 expression. Thus, B. anthracis may utilize extracellular signaling molecules to regulate density-dependent gene expression.




Jones, M. B., & Blaser, M. J. (2003). Detection of a luxS-signaling molecule in Bacillus anthracis. Infection and Immunity, 71(7), 3914–3919.

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