Sci. STKE, 4 January 2005
BACTERIOLOGY Seek, Sense, and Destroy
Highly virulent enterococcal strains have a pathogenicity island within their genome that encodes, among other traits, a cytolytic toxin that uses a quorum-sensing mechanism to affect autoinduction. Coburn et al. (see the Perspective by Garsin) show that the bacterium actively secretes two components, an autoinducer and an anti-autoinducer. In the absence of target cells, these two interact and prevent the autoinducer from feeding back to induce high-level expression of the cytolysin. In the presence of the target cell, however, the anti-autoinducer binds to the target cell and allows the autoinducer to accumulate to the threshold level required for quorum induction of the cytolysin operon. The anti-autoinducer is itself a toxin component and effectively tags the target for destruction.
Citation: Seek, Sense, and Destroy. Sci. STKE 2005, tw12 (2005).
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