Trends in Microbiology vol:20 issue:12 pages:577-585
Persister cells display tolerance to high doses of bactericidal antibiotics and typically comprise a small fraction of a bacterial population. Recently, evidence was provided for a causal link between therapy failure and the presence of persister cells in chronic infections, underscoring the need for research on bacterial persistence. A series of recent breakthroughs have shed light on the multiplicity of persister genes, the contribution of gene expression noise to persister formation, the importance of active responses to antibiotic tolerance and heterogeneity among persister cells. Moreover, the development of in vivo model systems has highlighted the clinical relevance of persistence. This review discusses these recent advances and how this knowledge fundamentally changes the way in which we will perceive the problem of antibiotic tolerance in years to come.