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PNAS 103 (19): 7460-7464

Copyright © 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences.


GABA controls the level of quorum-sensing signal in Agrobacterium tumefaciens

Romain Chevrot*, Ran Rosen{dagger},{ddagger}, Elise Haudecoeur*, Amélie Cirou*, Barry J. Shelp§, Eliora Ron{dagger}, and Denis Faure*

*Institut des Sciences du Végétal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Avenue de la Terrasse, Gif-sur-Yvette 91 198, France; {dagger}Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and {ddagger}The Maiman Institute for Proteome Research, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel; and §Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada N1G 2W1

Edited by Eugene W. Nester, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, and approved March 22, 2006

Received for publication January 12, 2006.

Abstract: The concentration of GABA increases rapidly in wounded plant tissues, but the implication of this GABA pulse for plant–bacteria interactions is not known. Here we reveal that GABA stimulated the inactivation of the N-(3-oxooctanoyl)homoserine lactone (OC8-HSL) quorum-sensing signal (or "quormone") by the Agrobacterium lactonase AttM. GABA induced the expression of the attKLM operon, which was correlated to a decrease in OC8-HSL concentration in Agrobacterium tumefaciens cultures. The Agrobacterium GABA transporter Bra was required for this GABA-signaling pathway. Furthermore, transgenic tobacco plants with elevated GABA levels were less sensitive to A. tumefaciens C58 infection than were wild-type plants. These findings indicate that plant GABA may modulate quorum sensing in A. tumefaciens, thereby affecting its virulence on plants. Whereas GABA is an essential cell-to-cell signal in eukaryotes, here we provide evidence of GABA acting as a signal between eukaryotes and pathogenic bacteria. The GABA signal represents a potential target for the development of a strategy to control the virulence of bacterial pathogens.

Key Words: phytopathology • plant signal • lactonase • quorum quenching

Author contributions: D.F. designed research; R.C., R.R., E.H., A.C., and D.F. performed research; B.J.S. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; R.R., A.C., E.R., and D.F. analyzed data; and R.R., E.H., B.J.S., E.R., and D.F. wrote the paper.

Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

This paper was submitted directly (Track II) to the PNAS office.

To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: faure{at}

© 2006 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA

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