Systems-level analysis of Escherichia coli response to silver nanoparticles: the roles of anaerobic respiration in microbial resistance

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012 Aug 10;424(4):657-62. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.06.134. Epub 2012 Jul 4.


Despite extensive use of silver nanoparticles for antimicrobial applications, cellular mechanisms underlying microbial response to silver nanoparticles remain to be further elucidated at the systems level. Here, we report systems-level response of Escherichia coli to silver nanoparticles using transcriptome-based biochemical and phenotype assays. Notably, we provided the evidence that anaerobic respiration is induced upon exposure to silver nanoparticles. Further we showed that anaerobic respiration-related regulators and enzymes play an important role in E. coli resistance to silver nanoparticles. In particular, our results suggest that arcA is essential for resistance against silver NPs and the deletion of fnr, fdnH and narH significantly increases the resistance. We envision that this study offers novel insights into modes of antimicrobial action of silver nanoparticles, and cellular mechanisms contributing to the development of microbial resistance to silver nanoparticles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Cytochrome c Group / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / genetics
  • Metal Nanoparticles*
  • Nitrate Reductase
  • Nitrite Reductases / genetics
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Silver / pharmacology*
  • Transcriptome


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • FNR protein, E coli
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • arcA protein, E coli
  • Silver
  • cytochrome C-552
  • Nitrite Reductases
  • NirB protein, E coli
  • Nitrate Reductase
  • napA protein, E coli
  • Oxygen