SOS Response Induction by ß-Lactams and Bacterial Defense Against Antibiotic Lethality

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Science  10 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5690, pp. 1629-1631
DOI: 10.1126/science.1101630

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The SOS response aids bacterial propagation by inhibiting cell division during repair of DNA damage. We report that inactivation of the ftsI gene product, penicillin binding protein 3, by either β-lactam antibiotics or genetic mutation induces SOS in Escherichia coli through the DpiBA two-component signal transduction system. This event, which requires the SOS-promoting recA and lexA genes as well as dpiA, transiently halts bacterial cell division, enabling survival to otherwise lethal antibiotic exposure. Our findings reveal defective cell wall synthesis as an unexpected initiator of the bacterial SOS response, indicate that β-lactam antibiotics are extracellular stimuli of this response, and demonstrate a novel mechanism for mitigation of antimicrobial lethality.

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