Elevated Expression of Toxin TisB Protects Persister Cells against Ciprofloxacin but Enhances Susceptibility to Mitomycin C

Daniel Edelmann, Florian H Leinberger, Nicole E Schmid, Markus Oberpaul, Till F Schäberle, Bork A Berghoff
2021 Microorganisms  
Bacterial chromosomes harbor toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems, some of which are implicated in the formation of multidrug-tolerant persister cells. In Escherichia coli, toxin TisB from the tisB/istR-1 TA system depolarizes the inner membrane and causes ATP depletion, which presumably favors persister formation. Transcription of tisB is induced upon DNA damage due to activation of the SOS response by LexA degradation. Transcriptional activation of tisB is counteracted on the post-transcriptional
more » ... l by structural features of tisB mRNA and RNA antitoxin IstR-1. Deletion of the regulatory RNA elements (mutant Δ1-41 ΔistR) uncouples TisB expression from LexA-dependent SOS induction and causes a 'high persistence' (hip) phenotype upon treatment with different antibiotics. Here, we demonstrate by the use of fluorescent reporters that TisB overexpression in mutant Δ1-41 ΔistR inhibits cellular processes, including the expression of SOS genes. The failure in SOS gene expression does not affect the hip phenotype upon treatment with the fluoroquinolone ciprofloxacin, likely because ATP depletion avoids strong DNA damage. By contrast, Δ1-41 ΔistR cells are highly susceptible to the DNA cross-linker mitomycin C, likely because the expression of SOS-dependent repair systems is impeded. Hence, the hip phenotype of the mutant is conditional and strongly depends on the DNA-damaging agent.
doi:10.3390/microorganisms9050943 pmid:33925723 fatcat:6ko4ucudmjaqjgtrm6jgpwbjfq