Bacterial quorum sensing: its role in virulence and possibilities for its control.
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. Here we review the quorum-sensing circuits of Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Vibrio cholerae. We outline these canonical quorum-sensing mechanisms and how each uniquely controls virulence factor production. Additionally, we examine recent efforts to inhibit quorum sensing in these pathogens with the goal of designing novel antimicrobial therapeutics.