Characterization of type 2 quorum sensing in Klebsiella pneumoniae and relationship with biofilm formation

D. Balestrino, Janus Anders Juul Haagensen, C. Rich, C. Forestier

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Quorum sensing is a process by which bacteria communicate by using secreted chemical signaling molecules called autoinducers. Many bacterial species modulate the expression of a wide variety of physiological functions in response to changes in population density by this mechanism. In this study, the opportunistic pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae was observed to secrete type 2 signaling molecules. A homologue of luxS, the gene required for AI-2 synthesis in Vibrio harveyi, was isolated from the K. pneumoniae genome. A V. harveyi bioassay showed the luxS functionality in K. pneumoniae and its ability to complement the luxS-negative phenotype of Escherichia coli DH5 alpha. Autoinducer activity was detected in the supernatant, and maximum expression of specific messengers detected by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis occurred during the late exponential phase. The highest levels of AI-2 were observed in minimal medium supplemented with glycerol. To determine the potential role of luxS in colonization processes, a K. pneumoniae luxS isogenic mutant was constructed and tested for its capacity to form biofilms in vitro on an abiotic surface and to colonize the intestinal tract in a murine model. No difference was observed in the level of intestinal colonization between the wild-type strain and the luxS mutant. Microscopic analysis of biofilm structures revealed that the luxS mutant was able to form a mature biofilm but with reduced capacities in the development of microcolonies, mostly in the early steps of biofilm formation. These data suggest that a LuxS-dependent signal plays a role in the early stages of biofilm formation by K. pneumoniae.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Bacteriology
    Issue number8
    Pages (from-to)2870-2880
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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