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David Plaut: Off the Cuff

Quorum Sensing

Published July 14, 2014 11:47 AM by David Plaut

Quorum sensing (QS) is a bacterial communication process that depends on the bacterial population density. It involves small diffusible signaling molecules which activate the expression of myriad genes that control a diverse array of functions including virulence. Quorum sensing is a process of cell-cell communication that allows bacteria to share information about cell density and adjust gene expression accordingly.

This process enables bacteria to express energetically expensive processes as a collective only when the impact of those processes on the environment or on a host will be maximized. Among the many traits controlled by quorum sensing is the expression of virulence factors by pathogenic bacteria. 

As QS is responsible for virulence in the clinically relevant bacteria, inhibition of QS appears to be a promising strategy to control these pathogenic bacteria. QS antagonists should be viewed as blockers of pathogenicity rather than as anti-microbials and because QS is not involved in bacterial growth, inhibition of QS should not yield a strong selective pressure for development of resistance. QS inhibitors hold great expectations and we may look forward to their application in fighting bacterial infections. 


  1. EMBO Mol Med. 2009 Jul;1(4):201-10
  2. Recent Pat Antiinfect Drug Discov. 2013 Apr;8(1):68-83.
posted by David Plaut


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