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Brameyer, Sophie ORCID: 0000-0002-6779-2343; Schumacher, Kilian; Kuppermann, Sonja; Jung, Kirsten ORCID: 0000-0003-0779-6841 (2022): Division of labor and collective functionality in Escherichia coli under acid stress. Communications Biology, 5: 327. ISSN 2399-3642

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The acid stress response is an important factor influencing the transmission of intestinal microbes such as the enterobacterium Escherichia coli . E. coli activates three inducible acid resistance systems - the glutamate decarboxylase, arginine decarboxylase, and lysine decarboxylase systems to counteract acid stress. Each system relies on the activity of a proton-consuming reaction catalyzed by a specific amino acid decarboxylase and a corresponding antiporter. Activation of these three systems is tightly regulated by a sophisticated interplay of membrane-integrated and soluble regulators. Using a fluorescent triple reporter strain, we quantitatively illuminated the cellular individuality during activation of each of the three acid resistance (AR) systems under consecutively increasing acid stress. Our studies highlight the advantages of E. coli in possessing three AR systems that enable division of labor in the population, which ensures survival over a wide range of low pH values.

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