Antibiotic Stress Induces Genetic Transformability in the Human Pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae

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Science  07 Jul 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5783, pp. 89-92
DOI: 10.1126/science.1127912

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Natural transformation is a widespread mechanism for genetic exchange in bacteria. Aminoglycoside and fluoroquinolone antibiotics, as well as mitomycin C, a DNA-damaging agent, induced transformation in Streptococcus pneumoniae. This induction required an intact competence regulatory cascade. Furthermore, mitomycin C induction of recA was strictly dependent on the development of competence. In response to antibiotic stress, S. pneumoniae, which lacks an SOS-like system, exhibited genetic transformation. The design of antibiotherapy should take into consideration this potential of a major human pathogen to increase its rate of genetic exchange in response to antibiotics.

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