1887

Abstract

The type II toxin–antitoxin (TA) modules, mazEF and relBE, in have been implicated in stress response, antibiotic tolerance and persister cell formation. However, how regulates these systems to prevent unwanted toxin activation and persister cell formation is unclear. In this study, we provide evidence that ClpP is required for the proteolytic regulation of these TA systems and persister cell formation in following antibiotic challenge. A persister viability assay showed that UA159 (WT) formed a larger quantity of persister cells than its isogenic mutant ΔclpP following antibiotic challenge. However, the reporter assay revealed that clpP deletion did not affect the transcriptional levels of mazEF and relBE, since no significant differences (>0.05) in the reporter activities were detected between the wild-type and ΔclpP background. Instead, all antibiotics tested at a sub-minimum inhibitory concentration (sub-MIC) induced transcriptional levels of mazEF and relBE operons. We then examined the protein profiles of His-tagged MazE and RelB proteins in the UA159 and ΔclpP backgrounds by Western blotting analysis. The results showed that strains grown under non-stress conditions expressed very low but detectable levels of MazE and RelB antitoxin proteins. Antibiotics at sub-MICs induced the levels of the MazE and RelB proteins, but the protein levels decreased rapidly in the wild-type background. In contrast, a stable level of MazE and RelB proteins could be detected in the ΔclpP mutant background, suggesting that both proteins accumulated in the ΔclpP mutant. We conclude that ClpP is required for the proteolytic regulation of cellular levels of the MazE and RelB antitoxins in , which may play a critical role in modulating the TA activities and persister cell formation of this organism following antibiotic challenge.

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2019-09-25
2019-10-23
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