SdiA of Salmonella enterica is a LuxR homolog that detects mixed microbial communities

B. Michael, J. N. Smith, S. Swift, F. Heffron, B. M.M. Ahmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

237 Scopus citations


Proteins of the LuxR family detect the presence of N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) and regulate transcription accordingly. When AHLs are synthesized by the same species that detects them, the system allows a bacterium to measure the population density of its own species, a phenomenon known as quorum sensing. The sdiA genes of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium are predicted to encode LuxR homologs. However, these species do not appear to synthesize AHLs or any other molecule detected by SdiA. It has previously been demonstrated that overexpression of sdiA results in the activation of the ftsQAZ locus in E. coli and four other loci in Salmonella serovar Typhimurium. Here we report that transcriptional fusions to these five loci fall into two classes. The first class requires overexpression of sdiA for activation. The second class responds to sdiA expressed from its natural position in the chromosome if the appropriate AHLs are added to the culture. The only member of the second class is a series of Prck-luxCDABE fusions in Salmonella serovar Typhimurium. SdiA responds with highest sensitivity to AHLs that have a keto modification at the third carbon and an acyl chain length of 6 or 8 (half-maximal response between 1 and 5 nM). Growth of Salmonella in proximity to species known to synthesize these AHLs results in sdiA-dependent activation of the Prck-luxCDABE fusions. SdiA appears to be the first AHL receptor discovered that detects signals emanating exclusively from other species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5733-5742
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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