Investigation of LuxS-mediated quorum sensing in Klebsiella pneumoniae

Lijiang Chen, Jonathan J. Wilksch, Haiyang Liu, Xiaoxiao Zhang, Von V.L. Torres, Wenzi Bi, Eric Mandela, Jianming Cao, Jiahui Li, Trevor Lithgow, Tieli Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Introduction. Autoinducer-2 (AI-2) quorum sensing is a bacterial communication system that responds to cell density. The system requires luxS activity to produce AI-2, which can regulate gene expression and processes such as biofilm formation.Aim. To investigate the role of luxS in biofilm formation and gene expression in the nosocomial pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae.Methodology. A ΔluxS gene deletion was made in K. pneumoniae KP563, an extensively drug-resistant isolate. AI-2 production was assessed in wild-type and ΔluxS strains grown in media supplemented with different carbohydrates. Potential roles of luxS in biofilm formation were investigated using a microtiter plate biofilm assay and scanning electron microscopy. Quantitative RT-PCR evaluated the expression of lipopolysaccharide (wzm and wbbM), polysaccharide (pgaA), and type 3 fimbriae (mrkA) synthesis genes in wild-type and ΔluxS mutant biofilm extracts.Results. AI-2 production was dependent on the presence of luxS. AI-2 accumulation was highest during early stationary phase in media supplemented with glucose, sucrose or glycerol. Changes in biofilm architecture were observed in the ΔluxS mutant, with less surface coverage and reduced macrocolony formation; however, no differences in biofilm formation between the wild-type and ΔluxS mutant using a microtiter plate assay were observed. In ΔluxS mutant biofilm extracts, the expression of wzm was down-regulated, and the expression of pgaA, which encodes a porin for poly-β-1,6-N-acetyl-d-glucosamine (PNAG) polysaccharide secretion, was upregulated.Conclusion. Relationships among AI-2-mediated quorum sensing, biofilm formation and gene expression of outer-membrane components were identified in K. pneumoniae. These inter-connected processes could be important for bacterial group behaviour and persistence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-413
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020


  • biofilm
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • luxS
  • quorum sensing

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