Yanxia Wu

Northeastern University, Boston, MA, United States

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Publications (2)35.77 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Bactericidal antibiotics kill by modulating their respective targets. This traditional view has been challenged by studies that propose an alternative, unified mechanism of killing, whereby toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced in the presence of antibiotics. We found no correlation between an individual cell's probability of survival in the presence of antibiotic and its level of ROS. An ROS quencher, thiourea, protected cells from antibiotics present at low concentrations, but the effect was observed under anaerobic conditions as well. There was essentially no difference in survival of bacteria treated with various antibiotics under aerobic or anaerobic conditions. This suggests that ROS do not play a role in killing of bacterial pathogens by antibiotics.
    Science 03/2013; 339(6124):1213-6. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Persisters are dormant phenotypic variants of regular cells that are tolerant to antibiotics and play an important role in recalcitrance of chronic infections to therapy. Persisters can be produced stochastically in a population untreated with antibiotics. At the same time, a deterministic component of persister formation has also been documented in a population of cells with DNA damaged by fluoroquinolone treatment. Expression of the SOS response under these conditions induces formation of persisters by increasing expression of the TisB toxin. This suggests that other stress responses may also contribute to persister formation. Of particular interest is oxidative stress that pathogens encounter during infection. Activated macrophages produce reactive oxygen and nitrogen species which induce the SoxRS and OxyR regulons. Genes controlled by these regulons deactivate the oxidants and promote repair. We examined the ability of oxidative stress induced by paraquat (PQ) to affect persister formation. Preincubation of cells with PQ produced a dramatic increase in the number of persisters surviving challenge with fluoroquinolone antibiotics. PQ did not affect killing by kanamycin or ampicillin. Persisters in a culture treated with PQ that survived a challenge with a fluoroquinolone were also highly tolerant to other antibiotics. PQ induces SoxRS, which in turn induces expression of the AcrAB-TolC multidrug-resistant (MDR) pump. Fluoroquinolones are extruded by this MDR pump, and the effect of PQ on antibiotic tolerance was largely abolished in a mutant that was defective in the pump. It appears that PQ, acting through AcrAB-TolC, reduces the concentration of fluoroquinolones in the cells. This allows a larger fraction of cells to become persisters in the presence of a fluoroquinolone. Analysis of a lexA3 mutant indeed showed a dependence of persister induction under these conditions on SOS. These findings show that induction of a classical resistance mechanism, MDR efflux, by oxidative stress leads to an increase in multidrug-tolerant persister cells.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 07/2012; 56(9):4922-6. · 4.57 Impact Factor