Low-Shear Modeled Microgravity Enhances Salmonella Enterica Resistance to Hydrogen Peroxide Through a Mechanism Involving KatG and KatN

Francesca Pacello 1, Giuseppe Rotilio 1, 2, Andrea Battistoni 1, 3, *
1 Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome
2 Centro Ricerche, IRCCS San Raffaele “La Pisana”, 00163, Rome, Italy
3 Consorzio Interuniversitario “Istituto Nazionale Biostrutture e Biosistemi” (I.N.B.B.), Viale delle Medaglie d’Oro 305, 00136 Roma, Italy

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© Pacello et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133 Roma, Italy; Tel: ++39-0672594372; Fax: ++39-0672594311; E-mail:


Studies carried out in recent years have established that growth under conditions of reduced gravity enhances Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium virulence. To analyze the possibility that this microgravity-induced increase in pathogenicity could involve alterations in the ability of Salmonella to withstand oxidative stress, we have compared the resistance to hydrogen peroxide of various Salmonella enterica strains grown under conditions of low shear modeled microgravity (LSMMG) or normal gravity (NG). We have found that growth in LSMMG significantly enhances hydrogen peroxide resistance of all the strains analyzed. This effect is abolished by deletion of the genes encoding for the catalases KatG and KatN, whose activity is markedly modulated by growth in LSMMG. In addition, we have observed that Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strains lacking Hfq, RpoE, RpoS or OxyR are still more resistant to oxidative stress when grown in LSMMG than in NG conditions, indicating that these global gene regulators are not responsible for the microgravity-induced changes in KatG and KatN activity. As Salmonella likely encounters low shear conditions in the intestinal tract, our observations suggest that alterations in the relative activity of KatG and KatN could enhance Salmonella resistance to the reactive oxygen species produced also during natural infections.

Keywords: Hydrogen peroxide resistance, Catalase, Microgravity, Bacterial virulence, Salmonella; HARV Bioreactor.