The Signaling Molecule Indole Inhibits Induction of the AR2 Acid Resistance System in Escherichia coli

Nathaniel Boon, Manpreet Kaur, Amina Aziz, Morissa Bradnick, Kenta Shibayama, Yoko Eguchi, Peter A Lund

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Induction of the AR2 acid response system of Escherichia coli occurs at a moderately low pH (pH 5.5) and leads to high levels of resistance to pH levels below 2.5 in the presence of glutamate. Induction is mediated in part by the EvgAS two component system. Here, we show that the bacterial signaling molecule indole inhibits the induction of key promoters in the AR2 system and blocks the development of glutamate-dependent acid resistance. The addition of tryptophan, the precursor for indole biosynthesis, had the same effects, and this block was relieved in a tnaA mutant, which is unable to synthesize indole. Expression of a constitutively active EvgS protein was able to relieve the inhibition caused by indole, consistent with EvgS being inhibited directly or indirectly by indole. Indole had no effect on autophosphorylation of the isolated cytoplasmic domain of EvgS. This is consistent with a model where indole directly or indirectly affects the ability of EvgS to detect its inducing signal or to transduce this information across the cytoplasmic membrane. The inhibitory activity of indole on the AR2 system is not related to its ability to act as an ionophore, and, conversely, the ionophore CCCP had no effect on acid-induced AR2 promoter activity, showing that the proton motive force is unlikely to be a signal for induction of the AR2 system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number474
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 Boon, Kaur, Aziz, Bradnick, Shibayama, Eguchi and Lund.


  • Escherichia coli
  • EvgS
  • acid
  • indole
  • two component system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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