AldB controls persister formation in Escherichia coli depending on environmental stress

Yuto Kawai, Shinya Matsumoto, Yiwei Ling, Shujiro Okuda, Satoshi Tsuneda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Persisters are multidrug-tolerant cells that are present within antibiotic-sensitive populations. Persister formation is not induced by genetic mutations, but rather by changes in the degree of expression of some genes. High redundancy has been observed among the pathways that have been hypothesized to respond to specific stresses. In this study, we conducted RNA sequencing of Escherichia coli persisters under various stress conditions to identify common mechanisms. We induced stresses such as glucose or amino acid exhaustion, acid stress and anaerobic conditions, all of which are encountered during bacterial pathogenesis. We found that most genes are differentially expressed depending on the specific stress condition; however, some genes were commonly expressed in persisters in most stress conditions. Commonly expressed genes are expected to be promising therapeutic targets for combating persistent infections. We found that knockdown of aldehyde dehydrogenase (aldB), which was expressed in every condition except for acid stress, decreased persisters in the non-stressed condition. However, the same strain unexpectedly showed an increased number of persisters in the amino acid-limited condition. Because the increase in persister number is glycolytic metabolite-dependent, metabolic flow may play a crucial role in aldB-mediated persister formation. These data suggest that environmental stresses alter persister mechanisms. Identification of environmental influences on persister formation during pathogenesis is therefore necessary to enabling persister eradication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalMicrobiology and Immunology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May


  • Escherichia coli
  • RNA sequencing
  • environmental stress
  • persister

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Virology


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