Extended spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli forms filaments as an initial response to cefotaxime treatment

Thea S. B. Kjeldsen, Morten Otto Alexander Sommer, John E. Olsen

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Background: beta-lactams target the peptidoglycan layer in the bacterial cell wall and most beta-lactam antibiotics cause filamentation in susceptible Gram-negative bacteria at low concentrations. The objective was to determine the initial morphological response of cephalosporin resistant CTX-M-1-producing E. coli to cefotaxime and to determine whether the response depended on the growth phase of the bacterium and the concentration of antibiotic. Results: Two antibiotic resistant strains carrying bla(CTX-M-1) on the chromosome and on an IncI1 plasmid and three sensitive strains were used in this study. The resistant strains displayed elongated cells when exposed to cefotaxime at sub-inhibitory as well as therapeutic concentrations (1 to 512 mg/L of cefotaxime) in both lag and early exponential phase, suggesting that the elongation was an initial response mechanism to the antibiotic. Normal sized cells were the dominant cell type in exponential and stationary growth phase. No elongated cells were seen in cultures without cefotaxime. In cultures with high concentrations of cefotaxime (128-512 mg/L), no growth other than initial filamentation was observed, but spheroplats appeared after 14-17 hours in cultures of the resistant strains. Filaments were also observed in sensitive control strains with sub-inhibitory concentrations of cefotaxime. Conclusions: We showed that E. coli resistant to beta-lactams by an extended-spectrum beta-lactamase, bla(CTX-M-1), produced filaments when exposed to cefotaxime. The filament formation was restricted to early growth phases and the time the cells grew as filaments was antibiotic concentration dependent. This indicates that antibiotic resistant E. coli undergo the same morphological changes as sensitive bacteria in the presence of beta-lactam antibiotic. It was showed that the filament formation was an initial response to the antibiotics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Microbiology
Issue number63
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • CTX-M-1
  • Filaments


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