Antibiotic treatment selects for cooperative virulence of Salmonella typhimurium

Diard, Médéric and Sellin, Mikael E. and Dolowschiak, Tamas and Arnoldini, Markus and Ackermann, Martin and Hardt, Wolf-Dietrich. (2014) Antibiotic treatment selects for cooperative virulence of Salmonella typhimurium. Current Biology, 24 (17). pp. 2000-2005.

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Antibiotics are powerful therapeutics but are not equally effective against all cells in bacterial populations. Bacteria that express an antibiotic-tolerant phenotype ("persisters") can evade treatment [1]. Persisters can cause relapses of the infection after the end of the therapy [2]. It is still poorly understood whether persistence affects the evolution of bacterial virulence. During infections, persisters have been found preferentially at particular sites within the host [3, 4]. If bacterial virulence factors are required to reach such sites, treatment with antibiotics could impose selection on the expression of virulence genes, in addition to their well-established effects on bacterial resistance. Here, we report that treatment with antibiotics selects for virulence and fosters transmissibility of Salmonella Typhimurium. In a mouse model for Salmonella diarrhea, treatment with the broad-spectrum antibiotic ciprofloxacin reverses the outcome of competition between wild-type bacteria and avirulent mutants that can spontaneously arise during within-host evolution [5]. While avirulent mutants take over the gut lumen and abolish disease transmission in untreated mice, ciprofloxacin tilts the balance in favor of virulent, wild-type bacteria. This is explained by the need for virulence factors to invade gut tissues and form a persistent reservoir. Avirulent mutants remain in the gut lumen and are eradicated. Upon cessation of antibiotic treatment, tissue-lodged wild-type pathogens reseed the gut lumen and thereby facilitate disease transmissibility to new hosts. Our results suggest a general principle by which antibiotic treatment can promote cooperative virulence during within-host evolution, increase duration of transmissibility, and thereby enhance the spread of an infectious disease.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Biozentrum > Infection Biology > Pathogen Evolution (Diard)
UniBasel Contributors:Diard, Médéric
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Cell Press
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:02 Dec 2020 08:30
Deposited On:02 Dec 2020 08:30

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