Enterococcal metabolite cues facilitate interspecies niche modulation and polymicrobial infection
Reference: Cell Host & Microbe (2016) 20: 493-503.

Enterococcus faecalis is frequently associated with polymicrobial infections of the urinary tract, indwelling catheters, and surgical wound sites. E. faecalis co-exists with Escherichia coli and other pathogens in wound infections, but mechanisms that govern polymicrobial colonization and pathogenesis are poorly defined. During infection, bacteria must overcome multiple host defenses, including nutrient iron limitation, to persist and cause disease. In this study, we investigated the contribution of E. faecalis to mixed-species infection when iron availability is restricted. We show that E. faecalis significantly augments E. coli biofilm growth and survival in vitro and in vivo by exporting L-ornithine. This metabolic cue facilitates E. coli biosynthesis of the enterobactin siderophore, allowing E. coli growth and biofilm formation in iron-limiting conditions that would otherwise restrict its growth. Thus, E. faecalis modulates its local environment by contributing growth-promoting cues that allow co-infecting organisms to overcome iron limitation and promotes polymicrobial infections.


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Keogh D., Tay W. H., Ho Y. Y., Dale J. L., Chen S., Umashankar S., Williams R. B. H., Chen S. L., Dunny G. M., Kline K. A.