An Escherichia coli biosensor strain for amplified and high throughput detection of antimicrobial agents

Minna Liisa Anko, Jussi Kurittu, Matti Karp

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We report here the construction of a bacterial reporter system for high-throughput screening of antimicrobial agents. The test organism is the Escherichia coli K-12 strain carrying luciferase genes luxC, luxD, luxA, luxB, and luxE from the bioluminescent bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens in a runaway replication plasmid. The replication of the plasmid can be induced, resulting in a change of the plasmid copy number from 1-2/cell to several hundreds per cell within tens of minutes. This increase in plasmid copies is independent of the replication of the host cells. The system will therefore amplify the effects of antibiotics inhibiting bacterial replication machinery, such as fluoroquinolones, and the inhibitory effects can be measured in real time by luminometry. The biosensor was compared with a strain engineered to emit light constitutively, and it was shown to be much more sensitive to various antibiotics than conventional overnight cultivation methods. The approach shows great potential for high-throughput screening of new compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-125
Number of pages7
JournalSLAS Discovery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2002
Externally publishedYes

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