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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 150-158

Mycobacterium smegmatis strains genetically resistant to moxifloxacin emerge de novo from the moxifloxacin-surviving population containing high levels of superoxide, H2O2, hydroxyl radical, and Fe (II)


Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Parthasarathi Ajitkumar
Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bengalore, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijmy.ijmy_58_22

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Background: The antibiotic-exposed bacteria often contain the reactive oxygen species (ROS), hydroxyl radical, which inflicts genome-wide mutations, causing the de novo formation of antibiotic-resistant strains. Hydroxyl radical is generated by Fenton reaction of Fe (II) with the ROS, H2O2, which, in turn, is formed by the dismutation of the ROS, superoxide. Therefore, for the emergence of bacterial strains genetically resistant to antibiotics, increased levels of superoxide, H2O2, hydroxyl radical, and Fe (II) should be present in the antibiotic-exposed bacteria. Here, we verified this premise by finding out whether the in vitro cultures of M. smegmatis, exposed to MBC of moxifloxacin for a prolonged duration, contain significantly high levels of superoxide, H2O2, hydroxyl radical, and Fe (II). Methods: Biological triplicate cultures of M. smegmatis, were exposed to MBC of moxifloxacin for 84 h. The colony-forming units (CFUs) of the cultures were determined on moxifloxacin-free and moxifloxacin-containing plates for the entire 84 h at a regular interval of 6 h. The cultures were analyzed at specific time points of killing phase (KP), antibiotic-surviving phase (ASP), and regrowth phase (RGP) for the presence of superoxide, H2O2, hydroxyl radical, and Fe (II) using the ROS- and Fe (II)-detecting fluorescence probes. The experimental cultures were grown in the presence of ROS and Fe (II) quenchers also and determined the levels of fluorescence corresponding to the ROS- and Fe (II)-specific probes. This was performed to establish the specificity of detection of ROS and Fe (II). Biological triplicate cultures, unexposed to moxifloxacin but cultured for 84 h, were used as the control for the measurement of ROS and Fe (II) levels. The CFUs of the cultures were determined on moxifloxacin-free and moxifloxacin-containing plates for the entire 84 h at regular intervals of 6 h. Flow cytometry analyses were performed for the detection and quantitation of the levels of fluorescence of the ROS-and Fe (II)-specific probes. The experimental cultures were grown in the presence of thiourea and bipyridyl as the ROS and Fe (II) quenchers, respectively, for the determination of the levels of fluorescence corresponding to the ROS- and Fe (II)-specific probes. Paired t-test was used to calculate statistical significance (n = 3). Results: The moxifloxacin-exposed cultures, but not the cultures unexposed to moxifloxacin, showed a triphasic response with a KP, ASP, and RGP. The cells in the late KP and ASP contained significantly elevated levels of superoxide, H2O2, hydroxyl radical, and Fe (II). Thus, high levels of the ROS and Fe (II) were found in the small population (in the ASP) of M. smegmatis cells that survived the moxifloxacin-mediated killing. From this moxifloxacin-surviving population (in the ASP), moxifloxacin-resistant genetic resisters emerged de novo at high frequency, regrew, divided, and populated the cultures. The levels of these ROS, Fe (II), and the high moxifloxacin resister generation frequency were quenched in the cultures grown in the presence of the respective ROS and Fe (II) quenchers. The cultures unexposed to moxifloxacin did not show any of these responses, indicating that the whole response was specific to antibiotic exposure. Conclusions: Significantly high levels of superoxide, H2O2, hydroxyl radical, and Fe (II) were generated in the M. smegmatis cultures exposed to moxifloxacin for a prolonged duration. It promoted the de novo emergence of genetic resisters to moxifloxacin at high frequency.


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