Quorum-sensing control of antibiotic synthesis in Burkholderia thailandensis

Breck A. Duerkop, John Varga, Josephine R. Chandler, Snow Brook Peterson, Jake P. Herman, Mair E A Churchill, Matthew R. Parsek, William C. Nierman, E. Peter Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The genome of Burkholderia thailandensis codes for several LuxR-LuxI quorum-sensing systems. We used B. thailandensis quorum-sensing deletion mutants and recombinant Escherichia coli to determine the nature of the signals produced by one of the systems, BtaR2-BtaI2, and to show that this system controls genes required for the synthesis of an antibiotic. BtaI2 is an acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) synthase that produces two hydroxylated acyl-HSLs, N-3-hydroxy-decanoyl-HSL (3OHC10-HSL) and N-3-hydroxyoctanoyl-HSL (3OHC8-HSL). The btaI2 gene is positively regulated by BtaR2 in response to either 3OHC10-HSL or 3OHC 8-HSL. The btaR2-btaI2 genes are located within clusters of genes with annotations that suggest they are involved in the synthesis of polyketide or peptide antibiotics. Stationary-phase cultures of wild-type B. thailandensis, but not a btaR2 mutant or a strain deficient in acyl-HSL synthesis, produced an antibiotic effective against gram-positive bacteria. Two of the putative antibiotic synthesis gene clusters require BtaR2 and either 3OHC 10-HSL or 3OHC8-HSL for activation. This represents another example where antibiotic synthesis is controlled by quorum sensing, and it has implications for the evolutionary divergence of B. thailandensis and its close relatives Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3909-3918
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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