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    Home > Biochemistry News > Microbiology News > University of Queensland Water Centre Guo Jianhua team Adv. Sci.: Unlocking the new role of plasmids—regulating antibiotic-induced changes in bacterial morphology

    University of Queensland Water Centre Guo Jianhua team Adv. Sci.: Unlocking the new role of plasmids—regulating antibiotic-induced changes in bacterial morphology

    • Last Update: 2023-02-03
    • Source: Internet
    • Author: User
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    First author: Yu Zhigang

    Corresponding author: Guo Jianhua

    Newsletter: Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology (ACWEB), University of Queensland

    Paper DOI: 10.

    Nature hides many magical mysteries: deciduous plants lose their leaves in autumn to prevent excessive transpiration in winter, and chameleons adapt to changes in the outside environment by changing the color and temperature of their bodies
    In the microscopic world, do you know how bacteria adapt to changing environments?
    Normally, bacteria maintain a specific shape (such as a ball or a short rod) to maintain their survival needs
    But when exposed to environmental stressors, such as antibiotics, this particular morphology changes to some extent in order to survive better, and filamentization is one of

    What is filamentization?

    Bacterial filamentization is a "malformed" way of growth: during reproduction, cells are blocked from dividing after extension, resulting in a significant increase
    in cell body length.
    Under adverse environmental conditions, such as antibiotic stress, bacteria thrive this way
    In addition, filamentization of bacteria is a temporary manifestation in which bacteria return to their normal form
    when environmental conditions are improved (without antibiotic stress pressure).

    Image source: Drawn by the author

    Why filamentosis?

    Bacterial filamentization is usually due to
    adverse environmental conditions.
    These adverse environmental conditions include antibiotics
    , pH, nutrition, temperature, and UV exposure
    Taking antibiotics as an example, when exposed to ciprofloxacin and cephalexin, bacterial
    DNA is damaged and the SOS rescue response (RecA-LexA, that is, the DNA repair system) in the body is activated.
    This inhibits the formation of a diaphragm (Z-ring), which plays an important role in cell division
    , and induces the production of

    Image source: Drawn by the author

    What are the adverse effects of filamentization?

    Filiform cells are long and difficult to be completely engulfed by bacterial predators, phagocytes or the host immune system to escape predators
    and predators.
    For example, E.
    coli, which can cause urinary tract infections in humans, is prone to filamentization
    after antibiotic treatment.
    Because these filamentized cells can escape predation from phagocytes or the host immune system and cannot be completely removed, they will cause repeated urinary tract infections
    In addition, filamentous bacteria have a stronger ability to colonize and take nutrients in the environment than normal bacteria, and are easy to form biofilms, which are difficult to be completely removed, so it is easy to cause human health and other related problems

    What are the characteristics of filamentous bacterial division?

    This study found that although the normal division of filamentous bacteria is blocked, they can still divide in an unequal way, which is different from
    the traditional cognitive diquoting method.
    Under low-dose antibiotic treatment, this unequal division occurs mainly at both ends of the cell

    Filamentous bacterial division process (selected from the original text)

    What role do plasmids play in filamentization?

    In this study, two strains (Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas alloputida) and two plasmids (RP4 and pKJK5) were first tested ), they were analyzed in real time with confocal microscopy to change
    cell morphology under the action of antibiotics.
    The results showed that both plasmid-free strains (
    and P.
    ) were filamentized, while the plasmid-containing bacteria remained in normal form
    Further studies have found that E.
    coli (UPEC), which can cause urinary tract infections in humans
    , can also be filamentized under the action of antibiotics, while the bacteria remain in normal form
    after containing plasmids.

    Antibiotic-induced filamentization of bacteria (from original)

    How do plasmids work?

    By analyzing the genetic data of the above two plasmids, we found that both carry plasmid distribution systems (so that plasmids can be stably inherited and distributed to daughter cells), especially the toxin-antitoxin system (TA system, such as parDE
    。 Toxin
    proteins in this system inhibit or kill bacteria, while antitoxin proteins neutralize toxin toxicity
    The TA system is widely present in prokaryotes and has an important impact
    on bacterial survival and coping with environmental stresses.
    In order to further elucidate
    whether the TA system carried by plasmids is an important factor in changing bacterial filament, the Escherichia coli J53 strain was selected and five different plasmids
    were constructed.
    Both toxins and antitoxins carried by these plasmids are expressed
    under the control of arabinose-induced promoters.






    pBAD24 (control).






    (but not expressed).





    ×: None; : Yes

    We found that all bacteria were filamentized when exposed only to antibiotics; When exposed only to arabinose, the toxin-containing bacteria (pJIMK78) are filamentized, while the bacteria containing the complete TA system (pJIMK78/pJIMK99) remain in normal form; When exposed to arabinose and antibiotics at the same time, bacteria containing intact TA systems remain in their original form
    This result shows that
    the TA system can influence the morphological response
    of bacteria to antibiotic stress.

    Effect of the toxin-antitoxin system on filamentization (from the original).

    By flow cytometry and reverse transcription qPCR analysis, this study further reveals that the TA system can influence antibiotic-induced bacterial filamentization in two ways: · Reduce DNA damage produced by antibiotics, SOS response in bacteria, and expression of cell division inhibitory proteins; · Promotes extracellular efflux pumps and enhances bacterial tolerance to antibiotics
    The picture is taken from the original text


    In this study, we are the first to discover the effect of plasmids on antibiotic-induced bacterial filament, expanding our new understanding
    of plasmid-mediated evolution of bacterial resistance.
    Due to the widespread use of antibiotics, the toxin-antitoxin system carried by plasmids
    plays an important role
    in bacterial evolution.
    In addition, for human pathogens that do not contain a
    toxin-antitoxin system, antibiotic treatment is likely to induce filamentization of these pathogenic bacteria, resulting in recurrent infections
    This study provides a new basis
    for potential risk assessment and new drug development due to antibiotic therapy.

    Paper link


    About the author

    First author: Yu Zhigang, postdoctoral
    fellow at the University of Queensland Water Centre, Australia.
    His research interests include the mechanism of bacterial resistance and its spread and control
    in the environment.
    At present, many
    research results have been published in Advanced Science, The ISME Journal, Gut Microbes, Water Research and other journals
    Corresponding author: Professor Guo Jianhua, Deputy Director of the Water Centre at the University of Queensland, Australia, is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Hazardous Materials and Water Science & Technology Associate Editor
    of Water Research.
    His research interests include the spread and control of bacterial resistance, the treatment and control of new environmental pollutants, the new technology of biological denitrification of sewage, and microbial ecology in water engineering systems

    Source: UQ Water Center
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