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Title: Mechanical stimuli activate gene expression via a cell envelope stress sensing pathway

Mechanosensitive mechanisms are often used to sense damage to tissue structure, stimulating matrix synthesis and repair. While this kind of mechanoregulatory process is well recognized in eukaryotic systems, it is not known whether such a process occurs in bacteria. InVibrio cholerae, antibiotic-induced damage to the load-bearing cell wall promotes increased signaling by the two-component system VxrAB, which stimulates cell wall synthesis. Here we show that changes in mechanical stress within the cell envelope are sufficient to stimulate VxrAB signaling in the absence of antibiotics. We applied mechanical forces to individual bacteria using three distinct loading modalities: extrusion loading within a microfluidic device, direct compression and hydrostatic pressure. In all cases, VxrAB signaling, as indicated by a fluorescent protein reporter, was increased in cells submitted to greater magnitudes of mechanical loading, hence diverse forms of mechanical stimuli activate VxrAB signaling. Reduction in cell envelope stiffness following removal of the endopeptidase ShyA led to large increases in cell envelope deformation and substantially increased VxrAB response, further supporting the responsiveness of VxrAB. Our findings demonstrate a mechanosensitive gene regulatory system in bacteria and suggest that mechanical signals may contribute to the regulation of cell wall homeostasis.

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Award ID(s):
2135586 2055214
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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