Muropeptides Stimulate Growth Resumption from Stationary Phase in Escherichia coli

Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 2;9(1):18043. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-54646-5.


When nutrients run out, bacteria enter a dormant metabolic state. This low or undetectable metabolic activity helps bacteria to preserve their scant reserves for the future needs, yet it also diminishes their ability to scan the environment for new growth-promoting substrates. However, neighboring microbial growth is a reliable indicator of a favorable environment and can thus serve as a cue for exiting dormancy. Here we report that for Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa this cue is provided by the basic peptidoglycan unit (i.e. muropeptide). We show that several forms of muropeptides from a variety of bacterial species can stimulate growth resumption of dormant cells and the sugar - peptide bond is crucial for this activity. These results, together with previous research that identifies muropeptides as a germination signal for bacterial spores, and their detection by mammalian immune cells, show that muropeptides are a universal cue for bacterial growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Peptidoglycan / metabolism*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism
  • Spores, Bacterial / metabolism


  • Peptidoglycan