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Accession IconGSE31054

Persistence of BW25113 mqsR producing MqsR 2-1 vs. producing wild-type MqsR with ampicillin

Organism Icon Escherichia coli k-12
Sample Icon 2 Downloadable Samples
Technology Badge Icon Affymetrix E. coli Genome 2.0 Array (ecoli2)

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Persisters are a subpopulation of metabolically-dormant cells in biofilms that are resistant to antibiotics; hence, understanding persister cell formation is important for controlling bacterial infections. Previously we discerned that MqsR and MqsA of Escherichia coli are a toxin/antitoxin pair that influence persister cell production via their regulation of Hha, CspD, and HokA. Here, to gain more insights into the origin of persisters, we used protein engineering to increase the toxicity of toxin MqsR by reasoning it would be easier to understand the effect of this toxin if it were more toxic. We found that two mutations (K3N and N31Y) increase the toxicity four fold and increase persistence 73 fold compared to native MqsR by making the protein less labile. A whole transcriptome study revealed that the MqsR variant represses acid resistance genes (gadABCEWX and hdeABD), multidrug resistance genes (mdtEF), and osmotic resistance genes (osmEY). Corroborating these microarray results, deletion of rpoS as well as the genes that the master stress response regulator RpoS controls, gadB, gadX, mdtF, and osmY, increased persister formation dramatically to the extent that nearly the whole population became persistent. Therefore, the more toxic MqsR increases persistence by decreasing the ability of the cell to respond to antibiotic stress through its RpoS-based regulation of acid resistance, multidrug resistance, and osmotic resistance systems.
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