July 7, 2019  |  

Chromosomal Sil system contributes to silver resistance in E. coli ATCC 8739.

Authors: Blanco Massani, Mariana and Klumpp, Jochen and Widmer, Madeleine and Speck, Christian and Nisple, Marc and Lehmann, Rainer and Schuppler, Markus

The rise of antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria is endangering the efficacy of antibiotics, which consequently results in greater use of silver as a biocide. Chromosomal mapping of the Cus system or plasmid encoded Sil system and their relationship with silver resistance was studied for several gram-negative bacteria. However, only few reports investigated silver detoxification mediated by the Sil system integrated in Escherichia coli chromosome. Accordingly, this work aimed to study the Sil system in E. coli ATCC 8739 and to produce evidence for its role in silver resistance development. Silver resistance was induced in E. coli ATCC 8739 by stepwise passage in culture media containing increasing concentrations of AgNO3. The published genome of E. coli ATCC 8739 contains a region showing strong homology to the Sil system genes. The role of this region in E. coli ATCC 8739 was assessed by monitoring the expression of silC upon silver stress, which resulted in a 350-fold increased expression. De novo sequencing of the whole genome of a silver resistant strain derived from E. coli ATCC 8739 revealed mutations in ORFs putative for SilR and CusR. The silver resistant strain (E. coli AgNO3R) showed constitutive expression of silC which posed a cost of fitness resulting in retarded growth. Furthermore, E. coli AgNO3R exhibited cross-resistance to ciprofloxacin and a slightly increased tolerance to ampicillin. This study demonstrates that E. coli is able to develop resistance to silver, which may pose a threat towards an effective use of silver compounds as antiseptics.

Journal: Biometals
DOI: 10.1007/s10534-018-0143-1
Year: 2018

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