Quorum sensing (QS) is an important determinant of bacterial phenotype. Many cell functions are regulated by intricate and multimodal QS signal transduction processes. The LuxS/AI-2 QS system is highly conserved among Eubacteria and AI-2 is reported as a 'universal' signal molecule. To understand the hierarchical organization of AI-2 circuitry, a comprehensive approach incorporating stochastic simulations was developed. We investigated the synthesis, uptake, and regulation of AI-2, developed testable hypotheses, and made several discoveries: (1) the mRNA transcript and protein levels of AI-2 synthases, Pfs and LuxS, do not contribute to the dramatically increased level of AI-2 found when cells are grown in the presence of glucose; (2) a concomitant increase in metabolic flux through this synthesis pathway in the presence of glucose only partially accounts for this difference. We predict that 'high-flux' alternative pathways or additional biological steps are involved in AI-2 synthesis; and (3) experimental results validate this hypothesis. This work demonstrates the utility of linking cell physiology with systems-based stochastic models that can be assembled de novo with partial knowledge of biochemical pathways.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Applied Mathematics