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Abstract

Dormant bacterial cells do not divide and are not immediately culturable, but they persist in a state of low metabolic activity, a physiological state having clinical relevance, for instance in latent tuberculosis. Resuscitation-promoting factors (Rpfs) are proteins that act as signalling molecules mediating growth and replication. In this study we aimed to test the effect of Rpfs from on the number and diversity of cultured bacteria using insect and soil samples, and to examine if the increase in culturability could be reproduced with the putative reaction product of Rpf, 1,6-anhydro--acetylmuramic acid (1,6-anhydro-MurNAc). The gene from was amplified and cloned into a pET21b expression vector and the protein was expressed in BL21(DE3) cells and purified by affinity chromatography using a hexa-histidine tag. 1,6-Anhydro-MurNAc was prepared using reported chemical synthesis methods. Recombinant Rpf protein or 1,6-anhydro-MurNAc were added to R2A cultivation media, and their effect on the culturability of bacteria from eight environmental samples including four cockroach guts and four soils was examined. Colony-forming units, 16S rRNA gene copies and Illumina amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene were measured for all eight samples subjected to three different treatments: Rpf, 1,6-anhydro-MurNAc or blank control. Both Rpf and 1,6-anhydro-MurNAc increased the number of colony-forming units and of 16S rRNA gene copies across the samples although the protein was more effective. The Rpf and 1,6-anhydro-MurNAc promoted the cultivation of a diverse set of bacteria and in particular certain clades of the phyla and . This study opens the path for improved cultivation strategies aiming to isolate and study yet undescribed living bacterial organisms.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • LOEWE-Zentrum für Translationale Medizin und Pharmakologie
    • Principle Award Recipient: AndreasVilcinskas
  • Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung
    • Principle Award Recipient: JuanGuzman
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
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2023-09-22
2024-06-24
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