Cecropins induce the hyperosmotic stress response in Escherichia coli

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Cecropin A and B, below or near their minimum inhibitory concentrations in viable Escherichia coli, interfered with the rapid NaCl-induced hyperosmotic shrinkage of the cytoplasmic volume (plasmolysis), and also activated the promoter of the hyperosmotic stress gene osmY. The same promoter was also expressed by hyperosmolar NaCl or sucrose, two of the most commonly used antimicrobial food preservatives. Stress responses were monitored during the logarithmic growth phase of E. coli strains that contain specific promoters fused to a luxCDABE operon on a plasmid. The luminescence assay, developed to monitor the transcriptional response to stresses, is based on the premise that organisms often respond and adapt to sublethal environmental adversities by increased expression of stress proteins to restore homeostasis. The luminescence response from these fusion strains to a specific stress occurs as the transcription at the promoter site is activated. Cecropins induced luminescence response only from the osmY-luxCDABE fusion, but not the corresponding stress promoter activation associated with macromolecular or oxidative damage, or leakage of the cytoplasmic content including the proton gradient. The inhibitory effect of cecropins on plasmolysis is interpreted to suggest that the primary locus of action of these antimicrobial peptides in the periplasmic space is on the coupling between the inner and outer membrane. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.




Oh, J. T., Cajal, Y., Dhurjati, P. S., Van Dyk, T. K., & Jain, M. K. (1998). Cecropins induce the hyperosmotic stress response in Escherichia coli. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1415(1), 235–245. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-2736(98)00195-3

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