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1.  Genome Sequence of Serratia plymuthica RVH1, Isolated from a Raw Vegetable-Processing Line 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(1):e00021-14.
We announce the genome sequence of Serratia plymuthica strain RVH1, a psychroloterant strain that was isolated from a raw vegetable-processing line and that regulates the production of primary metabolites (acetoin and butanediol), antibiotics, and extracellular enzymes through quorum sensing.
PMCID: PMC3916479  PMID: 24503985
2.  Isolation and Validation of an Endogenous Fluorescent Nucleoid Reporter in Salmonella Typhimurium 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93785.
In this study we adapted a Mud-based delivery system to construct a random yfp reporter gene (encoding the yellow fluorescent protein) insertion library in the genome of Salmonella Typhimurium LT2, and used fluorescence activated cell sorting and fluorescence microscopy to screen for translational fusions that were able to clearly and specifically label the bacterial nucleoid. Two such fusions were obtained, corresponding to a translational yfp insertion in iscR and iolR, respectively. Both fusions were further validated, and the IscR::YFP fluorescent nucleoid reporter together with time-lapse fluorescence microscopy was subsequently used to monitor nucleoid dynamics in response to the filamentation imposed by growth of LT2 at high hydrostatic pressure (40–45 MPa). As such, we were able to reveal that upon decompression the apparently entangled LT2 chromosomes in filamentous cells rapidly and efficiently segregate, after which septation of the filament occurs. In the course of the latter process, however, cells with a “trilobed” nucleoid were regularly observed, indicative for an imbalance between septum formation and chromosome segregation.
PMCID: PMC3973593  PMID: 24695782
4.  Does Virulence Assessment of Vibrio anguillarum Using Sea Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) Larvae Correspond with Genotypic and Phenotypic Characterization? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70477.
Vibriosis is one of the most ubiquitous fish diseases caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Vibrio such as Vibrio (Listonella) anguillarum. Despite a lot of research efforts, the virulence factors and mechanism of V. anguillarum are still insufficiently known, in part because of the lack of standardized virulence assays.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated and compared the virulence of 15 V. anguillarum strains obtained from different hosts or non-host niches using a standardized gnotobiotic bioassay with European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) larvae as model hosts. In addition, to assess potential relationships between virulence and genotypic and phenotypic characteristics, the strains were characterized by random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR (rep-PCR) analyses, as well as by phenotypic analyses using Biolog’s Phenotype MicroArray™ technology and some virulence factor assays.
Virulence testing revealed ten virulent and five avirulent strains. While some relation could be established between serotype, genotype and phenotype, no relation was found between virulence and genotypic or phenotypic characteristics, illustrating the complexity of V. anguillarum virulence. Moreover, the standardized gnotobiotic system used in this study has proven its strength as a model to assess and compare the virulence of different V. anguillarum strains in vivo. In this way, the bioassay contributes to the study of mechanisms underlying virulence in V. anguillarum.
PMCID: PMC3735585  PMID: 23936439
5.  Emergence and Stability of High-Pressure Resistance in Different Food-Borne Pathogens 
High hydrostatic pressure (HHP) processing is becoming a valuable nonthermal food pasteurization technique, although there is reasonable concern that bacterial HHP resistance could compromise the safety and stability of HHP-processed foods. While the degree of natural HHP resistance has already been shown to vary greatly among and within bacterial species, a still unresolved question remains as to what extent different food-borne pathogens can actually develop HHP resistance. In this study, we therefore examined and compared the intrinsic potentials for HHP resistance development among strains of Escherichia coli, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella enterica serovars Typhimurium and Enteritidis, Yersinia enterocolitica, Aeromonas hydrophila, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Listeria innocua using a selective enrichment approach. Interestingly, of all strains examined, the acquisition of extreme HHP resistance could be detected in only some of the E. coli strains, indicating that a specific genetic predisposition might be required for resistance development. Furthermore, once acquired, HHP resistance proved to be a very stable trait that was maintained for >80 generations in the absence of HHP exposure. Finally, at the mechanistic level, HHP resistance was not necessarily linked to derepression of the heat shock genes and was not related to the phenomenon of persistence.
PMCID: PMC3346480  PMID: 22344661
6.  Variation of Intragenic Tandem Repeat Tract of tolA Modulates Escherichia coli Stress Tolerance 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47766.
In recent work we discovered that the intragenic tandem repeat (TR) region of the tolA gene is highly variable among different Escherichia coli strains. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the biological function and dynamics of TR variation in E. coli tolA. The biological impact of TR variation was examined by comparing the ability of a set of synthetic tolA variants with in frame repeat copies varying from 2 to 39 to rescue the altered susceptibility of an E. coli ΔtolA mutant to deoxycholic acid, sodium dodecyl sulfate, hyperosmolarity, and infection with filamentous bacteriophage. Interestingly, although each of the TolA variants was able to at least partly rescue the ΔtolA mutant, the extent was clearly dependent on both the repeat number and the type of stress imposed, indicating the existence of opposing selective forces with regard to the optimal TR copy number. Subsequently, TR dynamics in a clonal population were assayed, and we could demonstrate that TR contractions are RecA dependent and enhanced in a DNA repair deficient uvrD background, and can occur at a frequency of 6.9×10−5.
PMCID: PMC3477136  PMID: 23094082
7.  Role of Lysozyme Inhibitors in the Virulence of Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45954.
Lysozymes are key effectors of the animal innate immunity system that kill bacteria by hydrolyzing peptidoglycan, their major cell wall constituent. Recently, specific inhibitors of the three major lysozyme families occuring in the animal kingdom (c-, g- and i-type) have been discovered in Gram-negative bacteria, and it has been proposed that these may help bacteria to evade lysozyme mediated lysis during interaction with an animal host. Escherichia coli produces two inhibitors that are specific for c-type lysozyme (Ivy, Inhibitor of vertebrate lysozyme; MliC, membrane bound lysozyme inhibitor of c-type lysozyme), and one specific for g-type lysozyme (PliG, periplasmic lysozyme inhibitor of g-type lysozyme). Here, we investigated the role of these lysozyme inhibitors in virulence of Avian Pathogenic E. coli (APEC) using a serum resistance test and a subcutaneous chicken infection model. Knock-out of mliC caused a strong reduction in serum resistance and in in vivo virulence that could be fully restored by genetic complementation, whereas ivy and pliG could be knocked out without effect on serum resistance and virulence. This is the first in vivo evidence for the involvement of lysozyme inhibitors in bacterial virulence. Remarkably, the virulence of a ivy mliC double knock-out strain was restored to almost wild-type level, and this strain also had a substantial residual periplasmic lysozyme inhibitory activity that was higher than that of the single knock-out strains. This suggests the existence of an additional periplasmic lysozyme inhibitor in this strain, and indicates a regulatory interaction in the expression of the different inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3458809  PMID: 23049900
9.  Goose-Type Lysozyme Inhibitor (PliG) Enhances Survival of Escherichia coli in Goose Egg Albumen ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(13):4697-4699.
The goose-type lysozyme inhibitor PliG enhances the survival of Escherichia coli in goose but not in chicken egg white, which contains goose- and chicken-type lysozymes, respectively. These results indicate that both the type of host lysozyme and the type of bacterial lysozyme inhibitor may affect bacterium-host interactions.
PMCID: PMC3127702  PMID: 21602367
10.  Biological Approach to Modeling of Staphylococcus aureus High-Hydrostatic-Pressure Inactivation Kinetics▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(21):6982-6990.
Graphs for survival under high hydrostatic pressure (450 MPa; 25°C; citrate-phosphate buffer, pH 7.0) of stationary-growth-phase cells of eight Staphylococcus aureus strains were found to be nonlinear. The strains could be classified into two groups on the basis of the shoulder length. Some of them showed long shoulders of up to 20 min at 450 MPa, while others had shoulders of <3.5 min. All strains showed tails. No significant differences in the inactivation rate were found during the log-linear death phase among the eight strains. The entry into stationary growth phase resulted both in an increase in shoulder length and in a decrease in the inactivation rate. However, whereas shoulder length proved to depend on sigma B factor activity, the inactivation rate did not. Recovery in anaerobiosis decreased the inactivation rate but did not affect the shoulder length. Addition of the minimum noninhibitory concentration of sodium chloride to the recovery medium resulted in a decrease in shoulder length and in an increase in the inactivation rate for stationary-growth-phase cells. In the tail region, up to 90% of the population remained sensitive to sodium chloride.
PMCID: PMC2976245  PMID: 20817808
11.  Evidence for an evolutionary antagonism between Mrr and Type III modification systems 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(14):5991-6001.
The Mrr protein of Escherichia coli is a laterally acquired Type IV restriction endonuclease with specificity for methylated DNA. While Mrr nuclease activity can be elicited by high-pressure stress in E. coli MG1655, its (over)expression per se does not confer any obvious toxicity. In this study, however, we discovered that Mrr of E. coli MG1655 causes distinct genotoxicity when expressed in Salmonella typhimurium LT2. Genetic screening enabled us to contribute this toxicity entirely to the presence of the endogenous Type III restriction modification system (StyLTI) of S. typhimurium LT2. The StyLTI system consists of the Mod DNA methyltransferase and the Res restriction endonuclease, and we revealed that expression of the LT2 mod gene was sufficient to trigger Mrr activity in E. coli MG1655. Moreover, we could demonstrate that horizontal acquisition of the MG1655 mrr locus can drive the loss of endogenous Mod functionality present in S. typhimurium LT2 and E. coli ED1a, and observed a strong anti-correlation between close homologues of MG1655 mrr and LT2 mod in the genome database. This apparent evolutionary antagonism is further discussed in the light of a possible role for Mrr as defense mechanism against the establishment of epigenetic regulation by foreign DNA methyltransferases.
PMCID: PMC3152355  PMID: 21504983
12.  Rapid Acquisition of Gigapascal-High-Pressure Resistance by Escherichia coli 
mBio  2011;2(1):e00130-10.
Pressure and temperature are important environmental variables that influence living systems. However, while they vary over a considerable range on Earth and other planets, it has hardly been addressed how straightforwardly and to what extent cellular life can acquire resistance to extremes of these parameters within a defined genomic context and a limited number of generations. Nevertheless, this is a very pertinent question with respect to the penetration of life in allegedly inhospitable environments. In this study, directed evolution was used to reveal the potential of the nonsporulating and mesophilic model bacterium Escherichia coli to develop the ability to survive exposure to high temperature or pressure. While heat resistance could only marginally be increased, our data show that piezoresistance could readily and reproducibly be extended into the GPa range, thereby greatly exceeding the currently recognized maximum for growth or survival.
While extremophilic microorganisms generally serve as the reference for microbial survival capacities in inhospitable environments, we set out to examine how readily a mesophilic model bacterium such as Escherichia coli could build up resistance to extremes of temperature or pressure within a very short evolutionary time scale. Both heat and high pressure constitute ecologically important physical stresses that are able to irrevocably penetrate the entire cell. Our results for the first time establish that cellular life can acquire resistance to pressures extending into the GPa range.
PMCID: PMC3025523  PMID: 21264062
13.  The Rcs Two-Component System Regulates Expression of Lysozyme Inhibitors and Is Induced by Exposure to Lysozyme▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(6):1979-1981.
The Escherichia coli Rcs regulon is triggered by antibiotic-mediated peptidoglycan stress and encodes two lysozyme inhibitors, Ivy and MliC. We report activation of this pathway by lysozyme and increased lysozyme sensitivity when Rcs induction is genetically blocked. This lysozyme sensitivity could be alleviated by complementation with Ivy and MliC.
PMCID: PMC2648352  PMID: 19136591
14.  Detection of a Lysozyme Inhibitor in Proteus mirabilis by a New Reverse Zymogram Method▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(15):4978-4981.
A reverse zymogram method for the detection of bacterial lysozyme inhibitors was developed. This method was validated by using a periplasmic protein extract of Escherichia coli containing a known inhibitor and subsequently led to the detection of a new proteinaceous hen egg white lysozyme inhibitor in Proteus mirabilis.
PMCID: PMC2519368  PMID: 18539812
15.  Role of the Lysozyme Inhibitor Ivy in Growth or Survival of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa Bacteria in Hen Egg White and in Human Saliva and Breast Milk▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(14):4434-4439.
Ivy is a lysozyme inhibitor that protects Escherichia coli against lysozyme-mediated cell wall hydrolysis when the outer membrane is permeabilized by mutation or by chemical or physical stress. In the current work, we have investigated whether Ivy is necessary for the survival or growth of E. coli MG1655 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 in hen egg white and in human saliva and breast milk, which are naturally rich in lysozyme and in membrane-permeabilizing components. Wild-type E. coli was able to grow in saliva and breast milk but showed partial inactivation in egg white. The knockout of Ivy did not affect growth in breast milk but slightly increased sensitivity to egg white and caused hypersensitivity to saliva, resulting in the complete inactivation of 104 CFU ml−1 of bacteria within less than 5 hours. The depletion of lysozyme from saliva completely restored the ability of the ivy mutant to grow like the parental strain. P. aeruginosa, in contrast, showed growth in all three substrates, which was not affected by the knockout of Ivy production. These results indicate that lysozyme inhibitors like Ivy promote bacterial survival or growth in particular lysozyme-rich secretions and suggest that they may promote the bacterial colonization of specific niches in the animal host.
PMCID: PMC2493159  PMID: 18515493
16.  A New Family of Lysozyme Inhibitors Contributing to Lysozyme Tolerance in Gram-Negative Bacteria 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(3):e1000019.
Lysozymes are ancient and important components of the innate immune system of animals that hydrolyze peptidoglycan, the major bacterial cell wall polymer. Bacteria engaging in commensal or pathogenic interactions with an animal host have evolved various strategies to evade this bactericidal enzyme, one recently proposed strategy being the production of lysozyme inhibitors. We here report the discovery of a novel family of bacterial lysozyme inhibitors with widespread homologs in gram-negative bacteria. First, a lysozyme inhibitor was isolated by affinity chromatography from a periplasmic extract of Salmonella Enteritidis, identified by mass spectrometry and correspondingly designated as PliC (periplasmic lysozyme inhibitor of c-type lysozyme). A pliC knock-out mutant no longer produced lysozyme inhibitory activity and showed increased lysozyme sensitivity in the presence of the outer membrane permeabilizing protein lactoferrin. PliC lacks similarity with the previously described Escherichia coli lysozyme inhibitor Ivy, but is related to a group of proteins with a common conserved COG3895 domain, some of them predicted to be lipoproteins. No function has yet been assigned to these proteins, although they are widely spread among the Proteobacteria. We demonstrate that at least two representatives of this group, MliC (membrane bound lysozyme inhibitor of c-type lysozyme) of E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, also possess lysozyme inhibitory activity and confer increased lysozyme tolerance upon expression in E. coli. Interestingly, mliC of Salmonella Typhi was picked up earlier in a screen for genes induced during residence in macrophages, and knockout of mliC was shown to reduce macrophage survival of S. Typhi. Based on these observations, we suggest that the COG3895 domain is a common feature of a novel and widespread family of bacterial lysozyme inhibitors in gram-negative bacteria that may function as colonization or virulence factors in bacteria interacting with an animal host.
Author Summary
Lysozyme is an ancient bactericidal enzyme that is part of the antibacterial defense system of vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Bacteria colonizing or infecting an animal host have developed various ways to overcome lysozyme action, a recently proposed mechanism being the production of lysozyme inhibitors. However, the only high affinity bacterial lysozyme inhibitor known thus far is produced only in few bacteria, and this raised questions about their wider relevance in bacteria–host interactions. We here report the discovery of a novel and distinct family of bacterial lysozyme inhibitors that is widely distributed among the Proteobacteria, including several major pathogens. The family comprises periplasmic as well as membrane-bound inhibitors, and both types contribute to lysozyme tolerance of bacterial cells, as we experimentally demonstrate for the periplasmic inhibitor from Salmonella Typhimurium and the membrane-bound inhibitors from Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Interestingly, a gene encoding one of the newly identified inhibitors has been previously found to promote macrophage survival of Salmonella Typhi. The widespread occurrence of lysozyme inhibitors in bacteria is likely to reflect their functional importance in a wide range of bacteria–host interactions. As such, they are also attractive novel targets for antibacterial drug development.
PMCID: PMC2267010  PMID: 18369469
17.  Role of Quorum Sensing and Antimicrobial Component Production by Serratia plymuthica in Formation of Biofilms, Including Mixed Biofilms with Escherichia coli▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2006;72(11):7294-7300.
We have previously characterized the N-acyl-l-homoserine lactone-based quorum-sensing system of the biofilm isolate Serratia plymuthica RVH1. Here we investigated the role of quorum sensing and of quorum-sensing-dependent production of an antimicrobial compound (AC) on biofilm formation by RVH1 and on the cocultivation of RVH1 and Escherichia coli in planktonic cultures or in biofilms. Biofilm formation of S. plymuthica was not affected by the knockout of splI or splR, the S. plymuthica homologs of the luxI or luxR quorum-sensing gene, respectively, or by the knockout of AC production. E. coli grew well in mixed broth culture with RVH1 until the latter reached 8.5 to 9.5 log CFU/ml, after which the E. coli colony counts steeply declined. In comparison, only a very small decline occurred in cocultures with the S. plymuthica AC-deficient and splI mutants. Complementation with exogenous N-hexanoyl-l-homoserine lactone rescued the wild-type phenotype of the splI mutant. The splR knockout mutant also induced a steep decline of E. coli, consistent with its proposed function as a repressor of quorum-sensing-regulated genes. The numbers of E. coli in 3-day-old mixed biofilms followed a similar pattern, being higher with S. plymuthica deficient in SplI or AC production than with wild-type S. plymuthica, the splR mutant, or the splI mutant in the presence of N-hexanoyl-l-homoserine lactone. Confocal laser scanning microscopic analysis of mixed biofilms established with strains producing different fluorescent proteins showed that E. coli microcolonies were less developed in the presence of RVH1 than in the presence of the AC-deficient mutant.
PMCID: PMC1636202  PMID: 16997989
18.  N-Acyl-l-Homoserine Lactone Quorum Sensing Controls Butanediol Fermentation in Serratia plymuthica RVH1 and Serratia marcescens MG1 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(12):4570-4572.
Butanediol fermentation in two Serratia species is shown to be affected by N-acyl-l-homoserine lactone-dependent quorum sensing. Knockout of quorum-sensing signal production caused a shift towards enhanced acid production, resulting in early growth arrest, which was reversible by the addition of synthetic signal molecules.
PMCID: PMC1482955  PMID: 16740963
19.  CorA Affects Tolerance of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium to the Lactoperoxidase Enzyme System but Not to Other Forms of Oxidative Stress 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(11):6515-6523.
The enzyme lactoperoxidase is part of the innate immune system in vertebrates and owes its antimicrobial activity to the formation of oxidative reaction products from various substrates. In a previous study, we have reported that, with thiocyanate as a substrate, the lactoperoxidase system elicits a distinct stress response in Escherichia coli MG1655. This response is different from but partly overlapping with the stress responses to hydrogen peroxide and to superoxide. In the current work, we constructed knockouts in 10 lactoperoxidase system-inducible genes to investigate their role in the tolerance of E. coli MG1655 to this antimicrobial system. Five mutations resulted in a slightly increased sensitivity, but one mutation (corA) caused hypersensitivity to the lactoperoxidase system. This hypersensitive phenotype was specific to the lactoperoxidase system, since neither the sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide nor to the superoxide generator plumbagin was affected in the corA mutant. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium corA had a similar phenotype. Although corA encodes an Mg2+ transporter and at least three other inducible open reading frames belonged to the Mg2+ regulon, repression of the Mg stimulon by Mg2+ did not change the lactoperoxidase sensitivity of either the wild-type or corA mutant. Prior exposure to 0.3 mM Ni2+, which is also transported by CorA, strongly sensitized MG1655 but not the corA mutant to the lactoperoxidase system. Furthermore, this Ni2+-dependent sensitization was suppressed by the CorA-specific inhibitor Co(III) hexaammine. These results indicate that CorA affects the lactoperoxidase sensitivity of E. coli by modulating the cytoplasmic concentrations of transition metals that enhance the toxicity of the lactoperoxidase system.
PMCID: PMC1287667  PMID: 16269676
20.  Role of Porins in Sensitivity of Escherichia coli to Antibacterial Activity of the Lactoperoxidase Enzyme System 
Lactoperoxidase is an enzyme that contributes to the antimicrobial defense in secretory fluids and that has attracted interest as a potential biopreservative for foods and other perishable products. Its antimicrobial activity is based on the formation of hypothiocyanate (OSCN−) from thiocyanate (SCN−), using H2O2 as an oxidant. To gain insight into the antibacterial mode of action of the lactoperoxidase enzyme system, we generated random transposon insertion mutations in Escherichia coli MG1655 and screened the resultant mutants for an altered tolerance of bacteriostatic concentrations of this enzyme system. Out of the ca. 5,000 mutants screened, 4 showed significantly increased tolerance, and 2 of these had an insertion, one in the waaQ gene and one in the waaO gene, whose products are involved in the synthesis of the core oligosaccharide moiety of lipopolysaccharides. Besides producing truncated lipopolysaccharides and displaying hypersensitivity to novobiocin and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), these mutants were also shown by urea-SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis to have reduced amounts of porins in their outer membranes. Moreover, they showed a reduced degradation of p-nitrophenyl phosphate and an increased resistance to ampicillin, two indications of a decrease in outer membrane permeability for small hydrophilic solutes. Additionally, ompC and ompF knockout mutants displayed levels of tolerance to the lactoperoxidase system similar to those displayed by the waa mutants. These results suggest that mutations which reduce the porin-mediated outer membrane permeability for small hydrophilic molecules lead to increased tolerance to the lactoperoxidase enzyme system because of a reduced uptake of OSCN−.
PMCID: PMC1169026  PMID: 16000755
21.  Induction of Oxidative Stress by High Hydrostatic Pressure in Escherichia coli 
Using leaderless alkaline phosphatase as a probe, it was demonstrated that pressure treatment induces endogenous intracellular oxidative stress in Escherichia coli MG1655. In stationary-phase cells, this oxidative stress increased with the applied pressure at least up to 400 MPa, which is well beyond the pressure at which the cells started to become inactivated (200 MPa). In exponential-phase cells, in contrast, oxidative stress increased with pressure treatment up to 150 MPa and then decreased again, together with the cell counts. Anaerobic incubation after pressure treatment significantly supported the recovery of MG1655, while mutants with increased intrinsic sensitivity toward oxidative stress (katE, katF, oxyR, sodAB, and soxS) were found to be more pressure sensitive than wild-type MG1655. Furthermore, mild pressure treatment strongly sensitized E. coli toward t-butylhydroperoxide and the superoxide generator plumbagin. Finally, previously described pressure-resistant mutants of E. coli MG1655 displayed enhanced resistance toward plumbagin. In one of these mutants, the induction of endogenous oxidative stress upon high hydrostatic pressure treatment was also investigated and found to be much lower than in MG1655. These results suggest that, at least under some conditions, the inactivation of E. coli by high hydrostatic pressure treatment is the consequence of a suicide mechanism involving the induction of an endogenous oxidative burst.
PMCID: PMC1087522  PMID: 15870304
22.  Induction of Shiga Toxin-Converting Prophage in Escherichia coli by High Hydrostatic Pressure 
Since high hydrostatic pressure is becoming increasingly important in modern food preservation, its potential effects on microorganisms need to be thoroughly investigated. In this context, mild pressures (<200 MPa) have recently been shown to induce an SOS response in Escherichia coli MG1655. Due to this response, we observed a RecA- and LexA-dependent induction of lambda prophage upon treating E. coli lysogens with sublethal pressures. In this report, we extend this observation to lambdoid Shiga toxin (Stx)-converting bacteriophages in MG1655, which constitute an important virulence trait in Stx-producing E. coli strains (STEC). The window of pressures capable of inducing Stx phages correlated well with the window of bacterial survival. When pressure treatments were conducted in whole milk, which is known to promote bacterial survival, Stx phage induction could be observed at up to 250 MPa in E. coli MG1655 and at up to 300 MPa in a pressure-resistant mutant of this strain. In addition, we found that the intrinsic pressure resistance of two types of Stx phages was very different, with one type surviving relatively well treatments of up to 400 MPa for 15 min at 20°C. Interestingly, and in contrast to UV irradiation or mitomycin C treatment, pressure was not able to induce Stx prophage or an SOS response in several natural Stx-producing STEC isolates.
PMCID: PMC1065167  PMID: 15746313
23.  An SOS Response Induced by High Pressure in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(18):6133-6141.
Although pressure is an important environmental parameter in microbial niches such as the deep sea and is furthermore used in food preservation to inactivate microorganisms, the fundamental understanding of its effects on bacteria remains fragmentary. Our group recently initiated differential fluorescence induction screening to search for pressure-induced Escherichia coli promoters and has already reported induction of the heat shock regulon. Here the screening was continued, and we report for the first time that pressure induces a bona fide SOS response in E. coli, characterized by the RecA and LexA-dependent expression of uvrA, recA, and sulA. Moreover, it was shown that pressure is capable of triggering lambda prophage induction in E. coli lysogens. The remnant lambdoid e14 element, however, could not be induced by pressure, as opposed to UV irradiation, indicating subtle differences between the pressure-induced and the classical SOS response. Furthermore, the pressure-induced SOS response seems not to be initiated by DNA damage, since ΔrecA and lexA1 (Ind−) mutants, which are intrinsically hypersensitive to DNA damage, were not sensitized or were only very slightly sensitized for pressure-mediated killing and since pressure treatment was not found to be mutagenic. In light of these findings, the current knowledge of pressure-mediated effects on bacteria is discussed.
PMCID: PMC515162  PMID: 15342583
24.  Heat Shock Protein-Mediated Resistance to High Hydrostatic Pressure in Escherichia coli 
A random library of Escherichia coli MG1655 genomic fragments fused to a promoterless green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene was constructed and screened by differential fluorescence induction for promoters that are induced after exposure to a sublethal high hydrostatic pressure stress. This screening yielded three promoters of genes belonging to the heat shock regulon (dnaK, lon, clpPX), suggesting a role for heat shock proteins in protection against, and/or repair of, damage caused by high pressure. Several further observations provide additional support for this hypothesis: (i) the expression of rpoH, encoding the heat shock-specific sigma factor σ32, was also induced by high pressure; (ii) heat shock rendered E. coli significantly more resistant to subsequent high-pressure inactivation, and this heat shock-induced pressure resistance followed the same time course as the induction of heat shock genes; (iii) basal expression levels of GFP from heat shock promoters, and expression of several heat shock proteins as determined by two-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of proteins extracted from pulse-labeled cells, was increased in three previously isolated pressure-resistant mutants of E. coli compared to wild-type levels.
PMCID: PMC404417  PMID: 15128516
25.  Inactivation of Gram-Negative Bacteria by Lysozyme, Denatured Lysozyme, and Lysozyme-Derived Peptides under High Hydrostatic Pressure 
We have studied the inactivation of six gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Salmonella enteritidis, Shigella sonnei, and Shigella flexneri) by high hydrostatic pressure treatment in the presence of hen egg-white lysozyme, partially or completely denatured lysozyme, or a synthetic cationic peptide derived from either hen egg white or coliphage T4 lysozyme. None of these compounds had a bactericidal or bacteriostatic effect on any of the tested bacteria at atmospheric pressure. Under high pressure, all bacteria except both Salmonella species showed higher inactivation in the presence of 100 μg of lysozyme/ml than without this additive, indicating that pressure sensitized the bacteria to lysozyme. This extra inactivation by lysozyme was accompanied by the formation of spheroplasts. Complete knockout of the muramidase enzymatic activity of lysozyme by heat treatment fully eliminated its bactericidal effect under pressure, but partially denatured lysozyme was still active against some bacteria. Contrary to some recent reports, these results indicate that enzymatic activity is indispensable for the antimicrobial activity of lysozyme. However, partial heat denaturation extended the activity spectrum of lysozyme under pressure to serovar Typhimurium, suggesting enhanced uptake of partially denatured lysozyme through the serovar Typhimurium outer membrane. All test bacteria were sensitized by high pressure to a peptide corresponding to amino acid residues 96 to 116 of hen egg white, and all except E. coli and P. fluorescens were sensitized by high pressure to a peptide corresponding to amino acid residues 143 to 155 of T4 lysozyme. Since they are not enzymatically active, these peptides probably have a different mechanism of action than all lysozyme polypeptides.
PMCID: PMC92580  PMID: 11133464

Results 1-25 (29)