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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Salicylate induction of antibiotic resistance in Escherichia coli: activation of the mar operon and a mar-independent pathway.

Since the growth of wild-type Escherichia coli in salicylate results in a multiple antibiotic resistance phenotype similar to that of constitutive mutants (Mar) of the chromosomal mar locus, the effect of salicylate on the expression of the marRAB operon was investigated. The amount of RNA hybridizing with a mar-specific DNA probe was 5 to 10 times higher in wild-type cells grown with sodium salicylate (5.0 mM) than in untreated controls. Untreated Mar mutants had three to five times more mar-specific RNA than wild-type cells did. When a Mar mutant was treated with salicylate, a 30- to 50-fold increase of mar-specific RNA was seen. In wild-type cells bearing a mar promoter-lacZ fusion on the chromosome, salicylate increased beta-galactosidase activity by sixfold. Thus, salicylate induces transcription of the marRAB operon. Other inducers of phenotypic multiple antibiotic resistance, e.g., benzoate, salicyl alcohol, and acetaminophen, but not acetate, also increased transcription from the mar promoter but to a lesser extent than did salicylate. Both in wild-type and mar-deficient strains, growth in salicylate resulted in increased antibiotic resistance, decreased permeation of the outer membrane to cephaloridine, increased micF transcription, and decreased amounts of OmpF. However, the magnitude of these changes was generally greater in wild-type (mar-containing) cells. Thus, salicylate and other compounds can induce transcription of the mar operon and, presumably, give rise to multiple antibiotic resistance via this pathway. However, salicylate can also activate an unidentified, mar-independent pathway(s) which engenders multiple antibiotic resistance.[1]


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