Bacterial quorum sensing offers an interesting viewpoint from which to study and control cell phenotype. Through the perception of signal molecules (e.g., AHL, AI-2) and their transduction, bacteria coordinate their behavior and act as multicellular units. This coordination is responsible for establishing virulence among a variety of pathogens. A combination of negative (auto-regulation) and positive feedback mechanisms that control the flow of information can be examined by separating the network architecture into sub-networks. Biofabricated devices that report on signaling events are constructed to elucidate cell-cell communication and serve as a foundation upon which to develop new drugs and/or screen for pathogenic phenotype. Using bottom up approaches such as those we have developed will improve our chances to sense and intercept communication in pathogenic bacteria and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
William E. Bentley is the Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Professor of Engineering and founding Chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. He is also appointed in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park and the Center for Biosystems Research of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute.
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