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Keywords:

  • antibiotic tolerance;
  • persisters;
  • ofloxacin;
  • stationary phase;
  • biofilm

Abstract

Persister cells are phenotypic variants that are extremely tolerant to high concentrations of antibiotics. They constitute a fraction of stationary phase cultures and biofilm populations of numerous bacterial species, such as the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Even though persisters are believed to be an important cause of incomplete elimination of infectious populations by antibiotics, their nature remains obscure. Most studies on persistence have focused on the model organism Escherichia coli and only a limited number of persistence genes have been identified to date. We performed the first large-scale screening of a P. aeruginosa PA14 mutant library to identify novel genes involved in persistence. A total of 5000 mutants were screened in a high-throughput manner and nine new persistence mutants were identified. Four mutants (with insertions in dinG, spuC, PA14_17880 and PA14_66140) exhibited a low persister phenotype and five mutants (in algR, pilH, ycgM, pheA and PA14_13680) displayed high persistence. These genes may serve as new candidate drug targets in the combat against P. aeruginosa infections.