Abstract

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that often infects open wounds or patients with cystic fibrosis. Once established, Paeruginosa infections are notoriously difficult to eradicate. This difficulty is in part due to the ability of Paeruginosa to tolerate antibiotic treatment at the individual-cell level or through collective behaviors. Here, we describe a new phenomenon by which Paeruginosa tolerates antibiotic treatment. In particular, treatment of Paeruginosa with sublethal concentrations of antibiotics covering all major classes promoted accumulation of the redox-sensitive phenazine pyocyanin (PYO). PYO in turn conferred general tolerance against diverse antibiotics for both Paeruginosa and other gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. This property is shared by other redox-active phenazines produced by Paeruginosa. Our discovery sheds new insights into the physiological functions of phenazines and has implications for designing effective antibiotic treatment protocols.

 

Credit: Janice Haney Carr CDC

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Citation: Zhu K, Chen S, Sysoeva TA, You L (2019) Universal antibiotic tolerance arising from antibiotic-triggered accumulation of pyocyanin in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. PLoS Biol 17(12): e3000573. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000573

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