Resveratrol exhibits a potent antimicrobial activity. However, the mechanism underlying its antibacterial activity has not been shown. In this study, the antibacterial mechanism of resveratrol was investigated. To investigate induction of the SOS response, a strain containing the lacZ + gene under the control of an SOS-inducible sulA promoter was constructed. DNA damage was measured by pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). After resveratrol treatment, the cells were observed by confocal microscopy. For the RNA silencing assay, ftsZ-specific antisense peptide nucleic acid (PNA) was used. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production increased in Escherichia coli after resveratrol treatment; however, cell growth was not recovered by ROS quenching, indicating that, in this experiment, ROS formation and cell death following resveratrol treatment were not directly correlated. Resveratrol treatment increased DNA fragmentation in cells, while SOS response-related gene expression levels increased in a dose-dependent manner. Cell elongation was observed after resveratrol treatment. Elongation was induced by inhibiting FtsZ, an essential cell-division protein in prokaryotes, and resulted in significant inhibition of Z-ring the formation in E. coli. The expression of ftsZ mRNA was suppressed by resveratrol. Our results indicate that resveratrol inhibits bacterial cell growth by suppressing FtsZ expression and Z-ring formation.
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