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PLoS One. 2019 Oct 1;14(10):e0223226. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223226. eCollection 2019.

Vibrio cholerae strains with inactivated cqsS gene overproduce autoinducer-2 which enhances resuscitation of dormant environmental V. cholerae.

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School of Life Sciences, Independent University Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Laboratory Sciences and Services Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Department of Veterinary Science, Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Osaka Prefecture University, Osaka, Japan.



Toxigenic Vibrio cholerae resides in aquatic reservoirs of cholera-endemic areas mostly in a dormant form known as conditionally viable environmental cells (CVEC) in which the bacteria remain embedded in an exopolysaccharide matrix, and fail to grow in routine bacteriological culture. The CVEC can be resuscitated by supplementing culture media with either of two autoinducers CAI-1 and AI-2, which are signal molecules controlling quorum sensing, a regulatory network of bacterial gene expression dependent on cell density. This study investigated possible existence of variant strains that overproduce AIs, sufficient to resuscitate CVEC in environmental waters.


Environmental V. cholerae isolates and Tn insertion mutants of a V. cholerae strain C6706 were screened for production of AIs using bioluminescent reporter strains. Relevant mutations in environmental strains which overproduced AI-2 were characterized by nucleotide sequencing and genetic complementation studies. Effect of AIs produced in culture supernatants of relevant strains on reactivation of CVEC in water was determined by resuscitation assays.


Two of 54 environmental V. cholerae isolates were found to overproduce AI-2. Screening of a Tn-insertion library of V. cholerae strain C6706, identified a mutant which overproduced AI-2, and carried Tn insertion in the cqsS gene. Nucleotide sequencing also revealed mutations inactivating the cqsS gene in environmental isolates which overproduced AI-2, and this property was reversed when complemented with a wild type cqsS gene. Culture of river water samples supplemented with spent medium of these mutants resuscitated dormant V. cholerae cells in water.


V. cholerae strains with inactivated cqsS gene may offer a convenient source of AI-2 in enhanced assays for monitoring bacteriological quality of water. The results also suggest a potential role of naturally occurring cqsS mutants in the environmental biology of V. cholerae. Furthermore, similar phenomenon may have relevance in the ecology of other waterborne bacterial pathogens beyond V. cholerae.

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