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Quorum Sensing Inhibition Attenuates the Virulence of the Plant Pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum Species Complex

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journal contribution
posted on 11.11.2020, 06:44 by Ayaka Yoshihara, Mika Shimatani, Megumi Sakata, Chika Takemura, Wakana Senuma, Yasufumi Hikichi, Kenji Kai
Strains of Ralstonia solanacearum species complex (RSSC) cause “bacterial wilt” on a wide range of plant species and thus lead to marked economic losses in agriculture. Quorum sensing (QS), a bacterial cell–cell communication mechanism, controls the virulence of RSSC strains by regulating the production of extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) and secondary metabolites, biofilm formation, and cellular motility. R. solanacearum strain OE1-1 employs (R)-methyl 3-hydroxymyristate (3-OH MAME) as a QS signal, which is synthesized by the PhcB methyltransferase and sensed by the PhcS/PhcRQ two-component system. We describe the design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of inhibitors of the phc QS system. Initial screening of a small set of QS signal analogues revealed that methyl 3-hydroxy-8-phenyloctanoate, named, PQI-1 (phc quorum sensing inhibitor-1), inhibited biofilm formation by strain OE1-1. To improve its inhibitory activity, the derivatives of PQI-1 were synthesized, and their QS inhibition activities were evaluated. PQIs-2–5 evolved from PQI-1 more strongly inhibited not only biofilm formation but also the production of ralfuranone and EPS. Furthermore, RNA-Seq analysis revealed that the PQIs effectively inhibited QS-dependent gene expression and repression in strain OE1-1. On the other hand, the PQIs did not affect the canonical QS systems of the representative reporter bacteria. These antagonists, especially PQI-5, reduced wilting symptoms of the tomato plants infected with strain OE1-1. Taken together, we suggest that targeting the phc QS system has potential for the development of chemicals that protect agricultural crops from bacterial wilt disease.