Pathogenic bacteria can enter into a viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state under unfavourable conditions. Proteus mirabilis is responsible for dire clinical consequences including septicaemia, urinary tract infections and pneumonia, but is not a species previously known to enter VBNC state. We suggested that stress-induced P. mirabilis can enter a VBNC state in which it retains virulence. P. mirabilis isolates were incubated in extreme osmotic pressure, starvation, low temperature and low pH to induce a VBNC state. Resuscitation was induced by temperature upshift and inoculation in tryptone soy broth with Tween 20 and brain heart infusion broth. Cellular ultrastructure and gene expression were examined using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), respectively. High osmotic pressure and low acidity caused rapid entry into VBNC state. Temperature upshift caused the highest percentage of resuscitation (93%) under different induction conditions. In the VBNC state, cells showed aberrant and dwarf morphology, virulence genes and stress response genes (envZ and rpoS) were expressed (levels varied depending on strain and inducing factors). This is the first-time characterization of VBNC P. mirabilis. The ability of P. mirabilis pathogenic strains to enter a stress-induced VBNC state can be a serious public health threat. © 2020 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Wasfi, R., Abdellatif, G. R., Elshishtawy, H. M., & Ashour, H. M. (2020). First-time characterization of viable but non-culturable Proteus mirabilis: Induction and resuscitation. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, 24(5), 2791–2801. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcmm.15031
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