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Silver-coated carbon nanotubes downregulate the expression of Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence genes: a potential mechanism for their antimicrobial effect

Authors Dosunmu E, Chaudhari A, Singh SR, Dennis V, Pillai S

Received 21 March 2015

Accepted for publication 26 May 2015

Published 5 August 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 5025—5034


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Thomas J. Webster

Ejovwoke Dosunmu, Atul A Chaudhari, Shree R Singh, Vida A Dennis, Shreekumar R Pillai

Center for NanoBiotechnology Research, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL, USA

Abstract: The antimicrobial activity of silver-coated carbon nanotubes (AgCNTs) and their potential mode of action against mucoid and nonmucoid strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa was investigated in vitro. The results showed that AgCNTs exhibited antimicrobial activity against both strains with minimum inhibitory concentrations of approximately 8 µg/mL, indicating a high sensitivity of P. aeruginosa to AgCNTs. AgCNTs were also bactericidal against both strains at the same minimum inhibitory concentration. Scanning and transmission electron-microscopy studies further revealed that a majority of the cells treated with AgCNTs transformed from smooth rod-shape morphology to disintegrated cells with broken/damaged membranes, resulting in leakage of cytoplasmic contents to produce ghost cells. The molecular effects of AgCNTs on P. aeruginosa genes involved in virulence and pathogenicity, stress response, and efflux pumps were evaluated for changes in their expression. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) showed that after exposure to AgCNTs, the expression levels of the rpoS, rsmZ, and oprD genes were significantly downregulated in both strains of P. aeruginosa compared to the untreated samples. These results suggest that the mechanism of action of AgCNTs may be attributed to their effect on cell-membrane integrity, downregulation of virulence-gene expression, and induction of general and oxidative stress in P. aeruginosa.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, AgCNT, antimicrobial activity, qRT-PCR

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