Williopsis saturnus yeast killer toxin does not kill Streptococcus pneumoniae
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Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important human bacterial pathogen, and the increase in antibiotic resistance demands the development of new antimicrobial compounds. Several reports have suggested that yeast killer toxins show activity against bacteria and we therefore investigated the activity of K9 killer toxin from the yeast Williopsis saturnus var. mrakii NCYC 500 against S. pneumoniae. However, no inhibition of bacterial growth was observed with concentrated K9 preparations in agar diffusion assays and in liquid culture. Although cell morphology was slightly affected by K9 treatment, no effect on cellular viability was detectable, and K9 had no stimulatory effect on cell lysis induced by β-lactams or Triton X-100. This indicated that K9 did not contribute to cell wall damage. Moreover, flow cytometry was used as a sensitive assessment of integrity of cells exposed to killer toxin. No significant damage of S. pneumoniae cells was evident, although minor changes in fluorescence suggested that K9 killer toxin may interact with bacterial surface components.