QStatin, a selective inhibitor of quorum sensing in Vibrio species

Byoung Sik Kim, Song Yee Jang, Ye Ji Bang, Jungwon Hwang, Youngwon Koo, Kyung Ku Jang, Dongyeol Lim, Myung Hee Kim, Sang Ho Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Pathogenic Vibrio species cause diseases in diverse marine animals reared in aquaculture. Since their pathogenesis, persistence, and survival in marine environments are regulated by quorum sensing (QS), QS interference has attracted attention as a means to control these bacteria in aquatic settings. A few QS inhibitors of Vibrio species have been reported, but detailed molecular mechanisms are lacking. Here, we identified a novel, potent, and selective Vibrio QS inhibitor, named QStatin [1-(5-bromothiophene-2-sulfonyl)-1H-pyrazole], which affects Vibrio harveyi LuxR homologues, the well-conserved master transcriptional regulators for QS in Vibrio species. Crystallographic and biochemical analyses showed that QStatin binds tightly to a putative ligand-binding pocket in SmcR, the LuxR homologue in V. vulnificus, and changes the flexibility of the protein, thereby altering its transcription regulatory activity. Transcriptome analysis revealed that QStatin results in SmcR dysfunction, affecting the expression of SmcR regulon required for virulence, motility/chemotaxis, and biofilm dynamics. Notably, QStatin attenuated representative QS-regulated phenotypes in various Vibrio species, including virulence against the brine shrimp (Artemia franciscana). Together, these results provide molecular insights into the mechanism of action of an effective, sustainable QS inhibitor that is less susceptible to resistance than other antimicrobial agents and useful in controlling the virulence of Vibrio species in aquacultures. IMPORTANCE Yields of aquaculture, such as penaeid shrimp hatcheries, are greatly affected by vibriosis, a disease caused by pathogenic Vibrio infections. Since bacterial cell-to-cell communication, known as quorum sensing (QS), regulates pathogenesis of Vibrio species in marine environments, QS inhibitors have attracted attention as alternatives to conventional antibiotics in aquatic settings. Here, we used target-based high-throughput screening to identify QStatin, a potent and selective inhibitor of V. harveyi LuxR homologues, which are well-conserved master QS regulators in Vibrio species. Structural and biochemical analyses revealed that QStatin binds tightly to a putative ligand-binding pocket on SmcR, the LuxR homologue in V. vulnificus, and affects expression of QS-regulated genes. Remarkably, QStatin attenuated diverse QS-regulated phenotypes in various Vibrio species, including pathogenesis against brine shrimp, with no impact on bacterial viability. Taken together, the results suggest that QStatin may be a sustainable antivibriosis agent useful in aquacultures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02262-17
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning (2017R1E1A1A01074639 to S.H.C. and 2017R1A2B3007317 to M.H.K.); the Institute of Planning and Evaluation for Technology (IPET) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (117064-03-1-HD040 to S.H.C.); and Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology Research Initiative Grants (KGM2111844 to M.H.K.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Kim et al.


  • LuxR
  • Quorum sensing
  • Quorum-sensing inhibitor
  • Vibrio


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