EttA is likely non-essential in Staphylococcus aureus persistence, fitness or resistance to antibiotics

Michal Meir, Anna Rozenblit, Simona Fliger, Yuval Geffen, Daniel Barkan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tolerance to antibiotics and persistence are associated with antibiotic treatment failures, chronic-relapsing infections, and emerging antibiotic resistance in various bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. Mechanisms of persistence are largely unknown, yet have been linked to physiology under low-ATP conditions and the metabolic-inactive state. EttA is an ATP-binding cassette protein, linked in Eschrechia coli to ribosomal hibernation and fitness in stationary growth phase, yet its role in S. aureus physiology is unknown. Results: Using whole genome sequencing (WGS) of serial clinical isolates, we identified an EttA-negative S. aureus mutant (ettA stop ), and its isogenic wild-type counterpart. We used these two isogenic clones to investigate the role of ettA in S. aureus physiology in starvation and antibiotic stress, and test its role in persistence and antibiotic tolerance. ettA stop and its WT counterpart were similar in their antibiotic resistance profiles to multiple antibiotics. Population dynamics of ettA stop and the WT were similar in low-nutrient setting, with similar recovery from stationary growth phase or starvation. Supra-bacteriocidal concentration of cefazolin had the same killing effect on ettA stop and WT populations, with no difference in persister formation. Conclusions: Lack of ettA does not affect S. aureus antibiotic resistance, beta-lactam tolerance, resilience to starvation or fitness following starvation. We conclude the role of ettA in S. aureus physiology is limited or redundant with another, unidentified gene. WGS of serial clinical isolates may enable investigation of other single genes involved in S. aureus virulence, and specifically persister cell formation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number288
JournalBMC Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Sep 2020


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Antibiotic tolerance
  • Fitness
  • Killing curve
  • Persistence
  • Ribosomal hibernation
  • Staphylococcus aureus

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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