N-acylhomoserine lactones, known as autoinducers (AIs), are widely conserved signal molecules present in quorum-sensing systems of many Gram-negative bacteria. AIs are involved in the regulation of diverse biological functions, including expression of pathogenic genes in the plant pathogens Pseudomonas solanacearum, several Erwinia species, and the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A bacterial isolate, Bacillus sp. 240B1, is capable of enzymatic inactivation of AIs. The gene (aiiA) for AI inactivation from Bacillus sp. 240B1 has been cloned and shown to encode a protein of 250 amino acids. Sequence alignment indicates that AiiA contains a “HXHXDH” zinc-binding motif that is conserved in several groups of metallohydrolases. Site-directed mutagenesis showed that conserved aspartate and most histidine residues are required for AiiA activity. Expression of aiiA in transformed Erwinia carotovora strain SCG1 significantly reduces the release of AI, decreases extracellular pectolytic enzyme activities, and attenuates pathogenicity on potato, eggplant, Chinese cabbage, carrot, celery, cauliflower, and tobacco. Our results indicate that the AI-inactivation approach represents a promising strategy for prevention of diseases in which virulence is regulated by AIs
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