Fifty Shades of Stress
A colourful screening platform for detecting bacterial cell stress

Antimicrobial resistance poses a serious threat to global public health. The number of drug-resistant pathogenic bacterial strains is rising at an alarming rate, while only a handful of new marketable antibiotics have been introduced in the past three decades [1].
Current drug discovery efforts suffer from tunnel vision: screening is limited to lethal compounds. This method overlooks a goldmine of compounds that do not directly kill the bacterial cell, but do induce stress. iGEM Leiden aims to develop an innovative screening platform, enabling rapid discovery of compounds which stress bacterial cells: Fifty Shades of Stress. We will create an E. coli reporter strain that produces chromoproteins - visible to the naked eye - when exposed to distinct cellular stresses. To illustrate, bacteria exposed to an agent interfering with protein translation will produce a red colour, whereas cell wall synthesis interfering agents elicit a blue color. This will allow high-throughput screening of compound libraries, which ultimately can be utilized to establish novel combination therapies. Fifty Shades of Stress will thereby help safeguard humanity against multi-drug resistant disease outbreaks.


[1]: Ventola, C. L. (2015). The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis: Part 1: Causes and Threats. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 40(4), 277–283.