Inactivation of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa quorum-sensing signal by human airway epithelia

Carlene K. Chun, Egon A. Ozer, Michael J. Welsh, Joseph Zabner, E. P. Greenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

239 Scopus citations


Mammalian airways protect themselves from bacterial infection by using multiple defense mechanisms including antimicrobial peptides, mucociliary clearance, and phagocytic cells. We asked whether airways might also target a key bacterial cell-cell communication system, quorum-sensing. The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses two quorum-sensing molecules, N-(3-oxododecanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3OC12-HSL) and N-butanoyl-L-homoserine lactone (C4-HSL), to control production of extracellular virulence factors and biofilm formation. We found that differentiated human airway epithelia inactivated 3OC12-HSL. Inactivation was selective for acyl-HSLs with certain acyl side chains, and C4-HSL was not inactivated. In addition, the capacity for inactivation varied widely in different cell types. 3OC12-HSL was inactivated by a cell-associated activity rather than a secreted factor. These data suggest that the ability of human airway epithelia to inactivate quorum-sensing signal molecules could play a role in the innate defense against bacterial infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3587-3590
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 9 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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