Stress-induced mutagenesis can assist pathogens in generating drug-resistant cells during antibiotic therapy; however, if and how antibiotics induce mutagenesis in microbes remains poorly understood. A non-pathogenic thermophile, Geobacillus kaustophilus HTA426, efficiently produces derivative cells resistant to rifampicin and streptomycin via rpoB and rpsL mutations, respectively. Here, we examined this phenomenon to suggest a novel mutagenic mode induced by antibiotics. Fluctuation analysis indicated that mutations occurred via spontaneous mutations during culture. However, mutations were much more frequent in growing cells than stationary cells, and mutation sites were varied through cell growth. These observations suggested that growing cells induced mutagenesis in response to antibiotics. An in-frame deletion of mfd, which governs transcription-coupled repair to correct DNA lesions on the transcribed strand, caused mutations that were comparable between growing and stationary cells; therefore, the mutagenic mechanism was attributable to DNA repair defects where growing cells depressed mfd function. Mutations occurred more frequently at optimal growth temperatures for G. kaustophilus than at a higher growth temperature, suggesting that the mutagenesis relies on active cellular activities rather than high temperature-associated DNA damage. In addition, the mutagenesis may involve a mutagenic factor targeting these sites, in addition to mfd depression, because rpoB and rpsL mutations were dominant at thymine and guanine sites on the transcribed strand. A similar mutagenic profile was observed for other Geobacillus and thermophilic Bacillus species. This suggests that Bacillus-related thermophiles commonly induce mutagenesis in response to rifampicin and streptomycin to produce resistant cells.
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This work was supported by the following organizations: Program for Promotion of Basic and Applied Researches for Innovations in Bio-oriented Industry, Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution, Japan; the Science and Technology Research Promotion Program for Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Food Industry, Japan; the Institute for Fermentation, Osaka, Japan; and JSPS KAKENHI (17K06925).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Suzuki, H., Taketani, T., Kobayashi, J. et al. Antibiotic resistance mutations induced in growing cells of Bacillus-related thermophiles. J Antibiot 71, 382–389 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41429-017-0003-1
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