Insights into the molecular basis of L-form formation and survival in Escherichia coli

William A. Glover, Yanqin Yang, Ying Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

L-forms have been shown to occur among many species of bacteria and are suspected to be involved in persistent infections. Since their discovery in 1935, numerous studies characterizing L-form morphology, growth, and pathogenic potential have been conducted. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the formation and survival of L-forms remain unknown. Using unstable L-form colonies of Escherichia coli as a model, we performed genome-wide transcriptome analysis and screened a deletion mutant library to study the molecular mechanisms involved in formation and survival of L-forms. Microarray analysis of L-form versus classical colonies revealed many up-regulated genes of unknown function as well as multiple over-expressed stress pathways shared in common with persister cells and biofilms. Mutant screens identified three groups of mutants which displayed varying degrees of defects in L-form colony formation. Group 1 mutants, which showed the strongest defect in L-form colony formation, belonged to pathways involved in cell envelope stress, DNA repair, iron homeostasis, outer membrane biogenesis, and drug efflux/ABC transporters. Four (Group 1) mutants, rcsB, a positive response regulator of colanic acid capsule synthesis, ruvA, a recombinational junction binding protein, fur, a ferric uptake regulator and smpA a small membrane lipoprotein were selected for complementation. Complementation of the mutants using a high-copy overexpression vector failed, while utilization of a low-copy inducible vector successfully restored L-form formation. This work represents the first systematic genetic evaluation of genes and pathways involved in the formation and survival of unstable L-form bacteria. Our findings provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying L-form formation and survival and have implications for understanding the emergence of antibiotic resistance, bacterial persistence and latent infections and designing novel drugs and vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere7316
JournalPloS one
Volume4
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 6 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Insights into the molecular basis of L-form formation and survival in Escherichia coli'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this