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Applied and environmental microbiology

Examination of the genome-wide transcriptional response of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to cinnamaldehyde exposure.


PMID 23183978

Abstract

Cinnamaldehyde is a natural antimicrobial that has been found to be effective against many food-borne pathogens, including Escherichia coli O157:H7. Although its antimicrobial effects have been well investigated, limited information is available on its effects at the molecular level. Sublethal treatment at 200 mg/liter cinnamaldehyde inhibited growth of E. coli O157:H7 at 37°C and for ≤2 h caused cell elongation, but from 2 to 4 h growth resumed and cells reverted to normal length. To understand this transient behavior, genome-wide transcriptional analysis of E. coli O157:H7 was performed at 2 and 4 h of exposure to cinnamaldehyde in conjunction with reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) analysis for cinnamaldehyde and other cinnamic compounds. Drastically different gene expression profiles were obtained at 2 and 4 h. RP-HPLC analysis showed that cinnamaldehyde was structurally stable for at least 2 h. At 2 h of exposure, cinnamaldehyde induced expression of many oxidative stress-related genes and repressed expression of DNA, protein, O-antigen, and fimbrial synthetic genes. At 4 h, many cinnamaldehyde-induced repressive effects on E. coli O157:H7 gene expression were reversed, and cells became more motile and grew at a slightly higher rate. Data indicated that by 4 h, E. coli O157:H7 was able to convert cinnamaldehyde into the less toxic cinnamic alcohol using dehydrogenase/reductase enzymes (YqhD and DkgA). This is the first study to characterize the ability of E. coli O157:H7 to convert cinnamaldehyde into cinnamic alcohol which, in turn, showed that the antimicrobial activity of cinnamaldehyde is mainly attributable to its carbonyl aldehyde group.

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