Microbiology Editor’s Choice: induction of protein expression by cell wall targeting antibiotics

Posted on August 3, 2020   by Microbiology Society

Each month, a manuscript published in our flagship journal Microbiology  is chosen by a member of the Editorial Board. This month, the paper is titled ‘Induction of clpP expression by cell wall targeting antibiotics in Streptococcus mutans’ and was chosen by Professor Isabelle Martin-Verstraete.

In this interesting and original work, the authors showed that the expression of the gene clpP is induced by antibiotics that target the cell-wall in Streptococcus mutans. The clpP gene encodes for a major protease called ClpP. This shows that protein degradation is linked to antibiotic exposure, and is dependent on ClpP and on another still unknown mechanism. S. mutans is a bacterium of the oral cavity associated with tooth decay.

Induction of clpP expression by cell wall targeting antibiotics in Streptococcus mutans

Streptococcus mutans is responsible for forming biofilms on the tooth's surface known as dental plaques. It has acquired many strategies to survive in the competitive environment of oral cavity. One of these is to regulate the production of proteases to maintain protein homoeostasis. Misfolded proteins formed during stresses are often degraded by ClpP protease. In this study, we report that stress imposed by a sub-inhibitory concentration of certain antibiotics elevates clpP expression. The regulation of clpP expression in response to antibiotic stress is also dependent on the repeat sequence being present in the upstream of clpP. Furthermore, we found that ClpP regulates its own expression.

We spoke with corresponding author Indranil Biswas to find out more:

What is your institution and how long have you been there?

University of Kansas Medical Center. I have been here for 12 years.

What is your research area?  

Bacterial genetics and antimicrobial discovery.

What inspired you to research this topic?

Bacteria are diverse and are amazing to study.

What is the most rewarding part of your research?

When the hypothesis is correct and experiments work.

What would you be doing if you weren't a scientist?

A teacher.