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Elife. 2015 Feb 2;4. doi: 10.7554/eLife.05701.

Kin cell lysis is a danger signal that activates antibacterial pathways of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, United States.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, United States.
Department of Physics, University of Washington, Seattle, United States.


The perception and response to cellular death is an important aspect of multicellular eukaryotic life. For example, damage-associated molecular patterns activate an inflammatory cascade that leads to removal of cellular debris and promotion of healing. We demonstrate that lysis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa cells triggers a program in the remaining population that confers fitness in interspecies co-culture. We find that this program, termed P. aeruginosa response to antagonism (PARA), involves rapid deployment of antibacterial factors and is mediated by the Gac/Rsm global regulatory pathway. Type VI secretion, and, unexpectedly, conjugative type IV secretion within competing bacteria, induce P. aeruginosa lysis and activate PARA, thus providing a mechanism for the enhanced capacity of P. aeruginosa to target bacteria that elaborate these factors. Our finding that bacteria sense damaged kin and respond via a widely distributed pathway to mount a complex response raises the possibility that danger sensing is an evolutionarily conserved process.


DAMP; fluorescence microscopy; infectious disease; interbacterial; intercellular signaling; mass spectrometry; microbiology

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