Bacteria have long been recognized to be capable of entering a phenotypically non-growing persister state, in which the cells exhibit an extended regrowth lag and a multidrug tolerance, thus posing a great challenge in treating infectious diseases. Owing to their non-inheritability, low abundance of existence, lack of metabolic activities, and high heterogeneity, properties of persisters remain poorly understood. Here, we report our accidental discovery of a hitherto unreported subcellular structure that we term the regrowth-delay body, which is formed only in non-growing bacterial cells and sequesters multiple key proteins. As of now, this structure, that dissolves when the cell resumes growth, is the most distinguishable subcellular structure marking persisters. Our studies also indicate that persisters exhibit different depth of persistence, as determined by the status of their regrowth-delay bodies. Our findings imply that suppressing the formation and/or promoting the dissolution of regrowth-delay bodies could be viable strategies for eradicating persisters.
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