Dead cells release a 'necrosignal' that activates antibiotic survival pathways in bacterial swarms

Souvik Bhattacharyya, David M. Walker, Rasika M. Harshey
2020 Nature Communications  
Swarming is a form of collective bacterial motion enabled by flagella on the surface of semi-solid media. Swarming populations exhibit non-genetic or adaptive resistance to antibiotics, despite sustaining considerable cell death. Here, we show that antibiotic-induced death of a sub-population benefits the swarm by enhancing adaptive resistance in the surviving cells. Killed cells release a resistance-enhancing factor that we identify as AcrA, a periplasmic component of RND efflux pumps. The
more » ... ased AcrA interacts on the surface of live cells with an outer membrane component of the efflux pump, TolC, stimulating drug efflux and inducing expression of other efflux pumps. This phenomenon, which we call 'necrosignaling', exists in other Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria and displays species-specificity. Given that adaptive resistance is a known incubator for evolving genetic resistance, our findings might be clinically relevant to the rise of multidrug resistance.
doi:10.1038/s41467-020-17709-0 pmid:32814767 fatcat:bxca6gm7uzafrjckviqeorbv4q