Characterization of the stability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa ribosomal proteins under stress conditions
In this study, I aimed to standardize western blot methods for probing large and small ribosomal subunits of Pseudomonas aeruginsa grown under different environmetal conditions, and to characterize the stability of ribosomal proteins to bring light to the heterogeneous composition of the population, which is hypothesized as one mechanism for antibiotic tolerance. Long-term studies done with P.aeruginosa PAO1 showed that mRNA transcripts of two proteins, RMF and HPF, are highly abundant at the biofilm-nutrient interface of the thick P.aeruginosa biofilms. Also, it was previously shown by Perez et al. and Williamson et al. (Pérez-Osorio et al., 2010; Williamson et al., 2012) that the cells located at the oxygen limited interphase of the biofilm were metabolically inactive or slow-growing. Akiyama et al. (Akiyama et al., 2017) and Williamson et al. (Williamson et al., 2012) found that HPF is a critical protein for the maintenance of 23S rRNA and overall ribosomal RNA stability after prolonged stress exposure (Akiyama et al., 2017; Williamson et al., 2012). In light of this information, Akiyama et al. (Akiyama et al., 2017) showed that in the absence of the HPF protein, P.aeruginosa cannot protect its ribosome integrity and cannot resuscitate from dormancy after the environmental stressors are gone. Perez et al. (Pérez-Osorio et al., 2010) showed that P.aeruginosa biofilms are heterogeneous in physiology, and it is posited that persister cells of the biofilm are located at the bottom of the biofilm, unaffected by the antibiotic exposure and therefore can repopulate the biofilm (Williamson et al., 2012). Localization of ribosomal subunits and determination of the abundance of ribosomes within the heterogeneous biofilms will provide valuable insights on the mechanisms of persister cell formation, dormancy, and resusication from dormancy. In order to do so, I have isolated two ribosomal proteins, L5 and S13, and HPF. In this study, I generated polyclonal antibodies against those three proteins. I used the antibodies to determine the abundance of these proteins during the normal course of growth of the wild type and Deltahpf mutant strains. Growth analysis in nutrient rich media gave us an understanding of the stability of 70S ribosomes when the bacterium was growing without any stress. Later, the wild type and Deltahpf strain were grown in a carbon and nitrogen-limited environment for seven days to examine the response of the cells to the starvation stress regarding ribosomal stability. Finally, I tested the hypothesis that cells located at the bottom of the biofilm are abundant in the HPF protein, and therefore contain more inactive ribosomes compared to the cells located at the top of biofilm.