Intracellular pHluorin as Sensor for Easy Assessment of Bacteriocin-Induced Membrane-Damage in Listeria monocytogenes
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionFrontiers in Microbiology. 2018, 9 (3038), . 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03038
Bacteriocins are antimicrobial peptides naturally produced by many bacteria and were shown to be effective against various pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes. L. monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen that frequently causes disease outbreaks around the world with fatal outcomes in at-risk individuals. Thus, bacteriocins are a promising solution to prevent contaminations with L. monocytogenes and other microorganisms during food production and preservation. In the present study, we constructed L. monocytogenes EGD-e/pNZ-Phelp-pHluorin, a strain that constitutively expresses the pH-sensitive fluorescent protein pHluorin, as a sensor strain to detect disruption of the pH gradient by the membrane-damaging activity of bacteriocins. The ratiometric fluorescence properties of pHluorin were validated both in crude extracts and permeabilized cells of this sensor strain. L. monocytogenes EGD-e/pNZ-Phelp-pHluorin was used to assess membrane damaging activity of the bacteriocins nisin A and pediocin PA-1 and to determine the minimal concentrations required for full disruption of the pH gradient across the membrane. Moreover, the sensor strain proved useful to analyze the presence of compounds affecting membrane integrity in supernatants of a nisin Z-producing Lactococcus lactis strain at different timepoints during growth. Supernatants of this strain that were active in disrupting the pH gradient across the membrane were also shown to inhibit growth of L. monocytogenes. In summary, the presented results suggest that the generated sensor strain is a convenient, fast and reliable tool to identify and characterize novel bacteriocins and other compounds that target membrane integrity.