HIPS-Talk: “Using chemical tools to unravel small-molecule based communication between species“

  • Overview

    Life on earth is heavily based on chemical communication between cells. Quorum sensing enables unicellular organisms to coordinate their behavior and function in such a way that they can adapt to changing environments and compete, as well as coexist, with multicellular organisms. A prime example of this phenomenon is displayed by the opportunistic pathogen

    Furthermore, we recently found that certain QS molecules and other natural products can also directly affect the behavior of other bacterial species as well as that of eukaryotes. Diverse eukaryotes have been found to react strongly to the presence of these compounds (often initiating counter-warfare to jam bacterial communication), however, to date no eukaryotic protein has been identified that binds bacterial QS molecules. We have synthesized and used a set of `tag-free` probes to isolate and identify for the first time such receptors. We have also discovered several previously unknown signaling molecules from plants that interfere with bacterial communication, and studied their mechanism of action.

    Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes disease in immunocompromised humans. Quorum sensing in this pathogen is mediated by binding of the transcriptional activator, LasR, to its ligand 3-oxo-C12-HSL, leading to biofilm formation and secretion of virulence factors. We are targeting QS in P. aeruginosa and other pathogens with various chemical tools, such as a set of electrophilic probes that are designed to bind QS receptors covalently, leading to inhibition of QS regulated gene expression. We use these probes as molecular tools to obtain new insights into the mechanisms of activation and deactivation of bacterial quorum sensing.

    Date: 08.03.2016, 17:00



    Building and room

    Blg E8.1, Conference Room (Ground floor)


    Prof. Michael M. Meijler

    Department of Chemistry and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er Sheva, Israel


    Michael Meijler obtained his MSc degree in Chemistry from the University of Amsterdam and his PhD degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science (with Abraham Shanzer). He then moved to The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, for postdoctoral studies with Kim Janda. After spending a year as Assistant Professor in the Janda group in 2005, he started his own group at the Department of Chemistry at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Be'er Sheva, Israel) in the fall of 2006 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011 and Full Professor in 2015. His research focuses on chemical communication between bacteria themselves, in various settings, and between bacteria and other species such as plants, fungi and animals.


    Prof. Dr. Rolf Hartmann


  • Christina Decker

    Christina Decker


    +49 681 98806-3001

    +49 681 98806-3009