• Modulation of Staphylococcus aureus response to antimicrobials by the Candida albicans quorum sensing molecule farnesol

      Kong, E.F.; Tsui, C.; Kucharíková, S. (American Society for Microbiology, 2017)
      In microbial biofilms, microorganisms utilize secreted signaling chemical molecules to coordinate their collective behavior. Farnesol is a quorum sensing molecule secreted by the fungal species Candida albicans and shown to play a central physiological role during fungal biofilm growth. Our pervious in vitro and in vivo studies characterized an intricate interaction between C. albicans and the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, as these species coexist in biofilm. In this study, we aimed to investigate the impact of farnesol on S. aureus survival, biofilm formation, and response to antimicrobials. The results demonstrated that in the presence of exogenously supplemented farnesol or farnesol secreted by C. albicans in biofilm, S. aureus exhibited significantly enhanced tolerance to antimicrobials. By using gene expression studies, S. aureus mutant strains, and chemical inhibitors, the mechanism for the enhanced tolerance was attributed to upregulation of drug efflux pumps. Importantly, we showed that sequential exposure of S. aureus to farnesol generated a phenotype of high resistance to antimicrobials. Based on the presence of intracellular reactive oxygen species upon farnesol exposure, we hypothesize that antimicrobial tolerance in S. aureus may be mediated by farnesol-induced oxidative stress triggering the upregulation of efflux pumps, as part of a general stress response system. Hence, in mixed biofilms, C. albicans may influence the pathogenicity of S. aureus through acquisition of a drug-tolerant phenotype, with important therapeutic implications. Understanding interspecies signaling in polymicrobial biofilms and the specific drug resistance responses to secreted molecules may lead to the identification of novel targets for drug development.