Stationary-Phase Quorum-Sensing Signals Affect Autoinducer-2 and Gene Expression in Escherichia coli

Dacheng Ren, Laura A. Bedzyk, Rick W. Ye, Stuart M. Thomas, Thomas K. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Quorum sensing via autoinducer-2 (AI-2) has been identified in different strains, including those from Escherichia, Vibrio, Streptococcus, and Bacillus species, and previous studies have suggested the existence of additional quorum-sensing signals working in the stationary phase of Escherichia coli cultures. To investigate the presence and global effect of these possible quorum-sensing signals other than AI-2, DNA microarrays were used to study the effect of stationary-phase signals on the gene expression of early exponential-phase cells of the AI-2-deficient strain E. coli DH5α. For statistically significant differential gene expression (P < 0.05), 14 genes were induced by supernatants from a stationary culture and 6 genes were repressed, suggesting the involvement of indole (induction of tnaA and tnaL) and phosphate (repression of phoA, phoB, and phoU). To study the stability of the signals, the stationary-phase supernatant was autoclaved and was used to study its effect on E. coli gene expression. Three genes were induced by autoclaved stationary-phase supernatant, and 34 genes were repressed. In total, three genes (ompC, ptsA, and btuB) were induced and five genes (nupC, phoB, phoU, argT, and ompF) were repressed by both fresh and autoclaved stationary-phase supernatants. Furthermore, supernatant from E. coli DH5α stationary culture was found to repress E. coli K-12 AI-2 concentrations by 4.8-fold ± 0.4-fold, suggesting that an additional quorum-sensing system in E. coli exists and that gene expression is controlled as a network with different signals working at different growth stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2038-2043
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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