Quorum Quenching

Not only secondary metabolites but also enzymes are suitable for defense against attackers. For example, many microorganisms interfere with the bacterial quorum sensing and thus prevent the microbial initiation of biofilm formation, virulence, or pathogenesis. Enzymatic breakdown of bacterial signal molecules (quorum quenching) disturbs the coordination of chemical and morphological differentiation of foreign bacteria. W-Acylhomoserine lactones, for example, 1, can be destroyed by hydrolytic enzymes either by cleaving the amide bond (AHL-acylase) or by opening the homoserine lactone (AHL-lactonase) (Figure 3). Quorum-quenching enzymes appear to be widespread among different bacterial species, in particular in Bacillus sp., but can also be found among eukaryotes. From the human skin, hydrolytic enzymes were characterized that have a broad substrate specificity. Clearly, enzymes interfering with bacterial signaling provide the producing organism a competitive advantage against otherwise invasive bacteria.

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