Human Intestinal Cells Modulate Conjugational Transfer of Multidrug Resistance Plasmids between Clinical Escherichia coli Isolates.

Ana Manuel Machado, Morten Sommer

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Abstract

Bacterial conjugation in the human gut microbiota is believed to play a major role in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes and virulence plasmids. However, the modulation of bacterial conjugation by the human host remains poorly understood and there is a need for controlled systems to study this process. We established an in vitro co-culture system to study the interaction between human intestinal cells and bacteria. We show that the conjugation efficiency of a plasmid encoding an extended spectrum beta-lactamase is reduced when clinical isolates of Escherichia coli are co-cultured with human intestinal cells. We show that filtered media from co-cultures contain a factor that reduces conjugation efficiency. Protease treatment of the filtered media eliminates this inhibition of conjugation. This data suggests that a peptide or protein based factor is secreted on the apical side of the intestinal cells exposed to bacteria leading to a two-fold reduction in conjugation efficiency. These results show that human gut epithelial cells can modulate bacterial conjugation and may have relevance to gene exchange in the gut.
Original languageEnglish
JournalP L o S One
Volume9
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)e100739
Number of pages5
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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