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Genes (Basel). 2018 Jul 6;9(7). pii: E344. doi: 10.3390/genes9070344.

Using a Chemical Genetic Screen to Enhance Our Understanding of the Antibacterial Properties of Silver.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. ngugala@ucalgary.ca.
2
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. jalemire@ucalgary.ca.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. kchatfieldreed@gmail.com.
4
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. ying.yan@ucalgary.ca.
5
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. gchua@ucalgary.ca.
6
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. turnerr@ucalgary.ca.

Abstract

It is essential to understand the mechanisms by which a toxicant is capable of poisoning the bacterial cell. The mechanism of action of many biocides and toxins, including numerous ubiquitous compounds, is not fully understood. For example, despite the widespread clinical and commercial use of silver (Ag), the mechanisms describing how this metal poisons bacterial cells remains incomplete. To advance our understanding surrounding the antimicrobial action of Ag, we performed a chemical genetic screen of a mutant library of Escherichia coli—the Keio collection, in order to identify Ag sensitive or resistant deletion strains. Indeed, our findings corroborate many previously established mechanisms that describe the antibacterial effects of Ag, such as the disruption of iron-sulfur clusters containing proteins and certain cellular redox enzymes. However, the data presented here demonstrates that the activity of Ag within the bacterial cell is more extensive, encompassing genes involved in cell wall maintenance, quinone metabolism and sulfur assimilation. Altogether, this study provides further insight into the antimicrobial mechanism of Ag and the physiological adaption of E. coli to this metal.

KEYWORDS:

Escherichia coli; Keio collection; antimicrobials; silver; silver resistance; silver toxicity

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