3 years ago

A mutator phenotype promoting the emergence of spontaneous oxidative stress resistant mutants in Campylobacter jejuni.

Lei Dai, Orhan Sahin, Yizhi Tang, Qijing Zhang
Campylobacter jejuni is a leading cause of foodborne illnesses worldwide. As a microaerophilic organism, C. jejuni must be able to defend against oxidative stress encountered both in the host and in the environment. How Campylobacter utilizes a mutation-based mechanism for adaptation to oxidative stress is still unknown. Here we present a previously undescribed phenotypic and genetic mechanism that promotes the emergence of oxidative stress resistant mutants. Specifically, we showed that a naturally occurring mutator phenotype, resulting from a loss of function mutation in the DNA repair enzyme MutY, increased oxidative stress resistance (OX(R)) in C. jejuni We further demonstrated that MutY malfunction didn't directly contribute to the OX(R) phenotype, but increased the spontaneous mutation rate in the peroxide regulator gene perR, which functions as a repressor for multiple genes involved in oxidative stress resistance. Mutations in PerR resulted in loss of its DNA binding function and derepression of PerR-controlled oxidative stress defense genes, thereby conferring an OX(R) phenotype and facilitating Campylobacter survival under oxidative stress. These findings reveal a new mechanism that promotes the emergence of spontaneous OX(R) mutants in bacterial organisms.Importance Although a mutator phenotype has been shown to promote antibiotic resistance in many bacteria species, little is known about its contribution to the emergence of OX(R) mutants. This work describes the link between a mutator phenotype and the enhanced emergence of OX(R) mutants as well as its underlying mechanism involving DNA repair and mutations in PerR. Since DNA repair systems and PerR are well conserved in many bacterial species, especially in Gram positives, the same mechanism may operate in multiple bacterial species. Additionally, we developed a novel method that allows for rapid quantification of spontaneous OX(R) mutants in a bacterial population. This method represents a technical innovation and may also be applied to other bacteria species. These findings significantly advance our understanding of bacterial mechanisms for survival under oxidative stress.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01685-17

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01685-17

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