Signaling-mediated bacterial persister formation

Nat Chem Biol. 2012 Mar 18;8(5):431-3. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.915.


Here we show that bacterial communication through indole signaling induces persistence, a phenomenon in which a subset of an isogenic bacterial population tolerates antibiotic treatment. We monitor indole-induced persister formation using microfluidics and identify the role of oxidative-stress and phage-shock pathways in this phenomenon. We propose a model in which indole signaling 'inoculates' a bacterial subpopulation against antibiotics by activating stress responses, leading to persister formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Indoles / metabolism*
  • Microfluidics
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Indoles
  • Repressor Proteins
  • oxyR protein, E coli