Stabilization of homoserine-O-succinyltransferase (MetA) decreases the frequency of persisters in Escherichia coli under stressful conditions

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Title
Stabilization of homoserine-O-succinyltransferase (MetA) decreases the frequency of persisters in Escherichia coli under stressful conditions
Author(s)
E A Mordukhova; Jae Gu Pan
Bibliographic Citation
PLoS One, vol. 9, no. 10, pp. e110504-e110504
Publication Year
2014
Abstract
Bacterial persisters are a small subpopulation of cells that exhibit multi-drug tolerance without genetic changes. Generally, persistence is associated with a dormant state in which the microbial cells are metabolically inactive. The bacterial response to unfavorable environmental conditions (heat, oxidative, acidic stress) induces the accumulation of aggregated proteins and enhances formation of persister cells in Escherichia coli cultures. We have found that methionine supplementation reduced the frequency of persisters at mild (37°C) and elevated (42°C) temperatures, as well as in the presence of acetate. Homoserine-o-succinyltransferase (MetA), the first enzyme in the methionine biosynthetic pathway, is prone to aggregation under many stress conditions, resulting in a methionine limitation in E. coli growth. Overexpression of MetA induced the greatest number of persisters at 42°C, which is correlated to an increased level of aggregated MetA. Substitution of the native metA gene on the E. coli K-12 WE chromosome by a mutant gene encoding the stabilized MetA led to reduction in persisters at the elevated temperature and in the presence of acetate, as well as lower aggregation of the mutated MetA. Decreased persister formation at 42°C was confirmed also in E. coli K-12 W3110 and a fast-growing WErph+ mutant harboring the stabilized MetA. Thus, this is the first study to demonstrate manipulation of persister frequency under stressful conditions by stabilization of a single aggregation-prone protein, MetA.
ISSN
1932-6203
Publisher
Public Library of Science
DOI
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0110504
Type
Article
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