The luxS gene product is an integral component of LuxS/autoinducer-2 (AI-2) quorum-sensing systems in bacteria. A putative luxS gene was expressed at comparable levels by Borrelia burgdorferi strain 297 cultivated either in vitro or in dialysis membrane chambers implanted in rat peritoneal cavities. Although the borrelial luxS gene functionally complemented a LuxS deficiency in Escherichia coli DH5α, AI-2-like activity could not be detected within B. burgdorferi culture supernatants or concentrated cell lysates. Finally, a luxS-deficient mutant of B. burgdorferi was infectious at wild-type levels when it was intradermally needle inoculated into mice, indicating that expression of luxS probably is not required for infectivity but, at the very least, is not essential for mammalian host adaptation. Our findings also challenge the notion that a LuxS/AI-2 quorum-sensing system is operative in B. burgdorferi.
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