Bacterial chat: Intestinal metabolites and signals in host-microbiota-pathogen interactions

Bruna C. Lustri, Vanessa Sperandio, Cristiano G. Moreira

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Intestinal bacteria employ microbial metabolites from the microbiota and chemical signaling during cell-to-cell communication to regulate several cellular functions. Pathogenic bacteria are extremely efficient in orchestrating their response to these signals through complex signaling transduction systems. Precise coordination and interpretation of these multiple chemical cues is important within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Enteric foodborne pathogens, such as enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, or the surrogate murine infection model for EHEC, Citrobacter rodentium, are all examples of microorganisms that modulate the expression of their virulence repertoire in response to signals from the microbiota or the host, such as autoinducer-3 (AI-3), epinephrine (Epi), and norepinephrine (NE). The QseBC and QseEF two-component systems, shared by these pathogens, are involved in sensing these signals. We review how these signaling systems sense and relay these signals to drive bacterial gene expression; specifically, to modulate virulence. We also review how bacteria chat via chemical signals integrated with metabolite recognition and utilization to promote successful associations among enteric pathogens, the microbiota, and the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00476-17
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2017


  • Chemical signaling
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Escherichia
  • Intestinal metabolites
  • Salmonella

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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