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Science 313 (5783): 89-92

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Antibiotic Stress Induces Genetic Transformability in the Human Pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae

Marc Prudhomme,* Laetitia Attaiech,* Guillaume Sanchez, Bernard Martin, Jean-Pierre Claverys{dagger}

Abstract: Natural transformation is a widespread mechanism for genetic exchange in bacteria. Aminoglycoside and fluoroquinolone antibiotics, as well as mitomycin C, a DNA-damaging agent, induced transformation in Streptococcus pneumoniae. This induction required an intact competence regulatory cascade. Furthermore, mitomycin C induction of recA was strictly dependent on the development of competence. In response to antibiotic stress, S. pneumoniae, which lacks an SOS-like system, exhibited genetic transformation. The design of antibiotherapy should take into consideration this potential of a major human pathogen to increase its rate of genetic exchange in response to antibiotics.

Laboratoire de Microbiologie et Génétique Moléculaires, UMR 5100 CNRS-Université Paul Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 9, France.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: claverys{at}

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