It has been proposed that lack of a functional efflux system(s) will lead to a lower frequency of selection of resistance to fluoroquinolones and other antibiotics. We constructed five strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 that lacked efflux gene components of resistance nodulation cell division pumps (acrB, acrD, acrF, acrBacrF, and tolC) plus three strains that lack genes that effect efflux gene expression (marA, soxS, and ramA) and a hypermutable strain (mutS::aph). Strains were exposed to ciprofloxacin at 2× the MIC in agar, in the presence and absence of Phe-Arg-β-naphthylamide, an efflux pump inhibitor. Mutants were selected from all strains except those lacking acrB, tolC, or acrBacrF. For strains from which mutants were selected, there were no significant differences between the frequencies of resistance. Except for mutants of the ramA::aph strain, two phenotypes arose: resistance to quinolones only and multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR). ramA::aph mutants were resistant to quinolones only, suggesting a role for ramA in MAR in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium. Phe-Arg-β-naphthylamide (20 μg/ml) had no effect on the frequencies of resistance or ciprofloxacin MICs. In conclusion, functional AcrB and TolC in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium are important for the selection of ciprofloxacin-resistant mutants.
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium has at least nine
multidrug efflux pumps. Among these pumps, AcrAB is effective in generating
drug resistance and has wide substrate specificity. Here we report that
indole, bile, and an Escherichia coli conditioned medium induced the
AcrAB pump in Salmonella through a specific regulator, RamA. The
RamA-binding sites were located in the upstream regions of acrAB and
tolC. RamA was required for indole induction of acrAB. Other
regulators of acrAB such as MarA, SoxS, Rob, SdiA, and AcrR did not
contribute to acrAB induction by indole in Salmonella.
Indole activated ramA transcription, and overproduction of RamA
caused increased acrAB expression. In contrast, induction of
ramA was not required for induction of acrAB by bile. Cholic
acid binds to RamA, and we suggest that bile acts by altering pre-existing
RamA. This points to two different AcrAB regulatory modes through RamA. Our
results suggest that RamA controls the Salmonella AcrAB-TolC
multidrug efflux system through dual regulatory modes in response to
Comparative reverse transcription-PCR in combination with denaturing high-pressure liquid chromatography analysis was used to determine the levels of expression of soxS, marA, acrF, acrB, and acrD in multiple-antibiotic-resistant (MAR) Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium isolates and mutants of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 with defined deletions. Posttherapy MAR clinical isolates had increased levels of expression of all genes except soxS. S. enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 ΔacrB expressed 7.9-fold more acrF than the parent strain. A strain with an acrF deletion expressed 4.6-fold more acrB. Deletion of acrB and/or acrF resulted in 2.7- to 4.3-fold more marA mRNA and 3.6- to 4.9-fold increases in the levels of expression of acrD but had a variable effect on the expression of soxS. All mutants were hypersusceptible to antibiotics, dyes, and detergents; but the MIC changes were more noticeable for SL1344 with the acrB deletion than for the mutant with the acrF disruption. These mutants had different but overlapping phenotypes, and the concentrations of ciprofloxacin accumulated by the mutants were different. These data suggest that acrB, acrF, and acrD are coordinately regulated and that their expression influences the expression of the transcriptional activators marA and soxS.
Understanding the impact of antimicrobial use on the emergence of resistant bacteria is imperative to prevent its emergence. For instance, activation of the AcrAB efflux pumps is responsible for the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella strains. Here, we examined the expression levels of acrB and its multiple regulator genes (RamA, SoxS, MarA, and Rob) in 17 field isolates of S. Choleraesuis by using quantitative PCR methods. The expression of acrB increased in eight of the field isolates (P < 0.05). The expression of acrB was associated with that of ramA in one isolate, soxS in one isolate, and both these genes in six isolates. Thereafter, to examine the effect of selected antimicrobials (enrofloxacin, ampicillin, oxytetracycline, kanamycin, and spectinomycin) on the expression of acrB and its regulator genes, mutants derived from five isolates of S. Choleraesuis were selected by culture on antimicrobial-containing plates. The expression of acrB and ramA was higher in the mutants selected using enrofloxacin (3.3–6.3- and 24.5–37.7-fold, respectively), ampicillin (1.8–7.7- and 16.1–55.9-fold, respectively), oxytetracycline (1.7–3.3- and 3.2–31.1-fold, respectively), and kanamycin (1.6–2.2- and 5.6–26.4-fold, respectively), which are AcrAB substrates, than in each of the parental strains (P < 0.05). In contrast, in AcrAB substrate-selected mutants, the expression of soxS, marA, and rob remained similar to that in parental strains. Of the four antimicrobials, the level of ramA expression was significantly higher in the enrofloxacin- and ampicillin-selected mutants than in the oxytetracycline- and kanamycin-selected mutants (P < 0.05), whereas the expression levels of acrB and multiple regulator genes in spectinomycin-selected mutants were similar to those in each parental strain. These data suggest that exposure to antimicrobials that are AcrAB substrates enhance the activation of the AcrAB efflux pump via RamA, but not via SoxS, MarA, or Rob in S. Choleraesuis.
AcrAB efflux pump; antimicrobial resistance; RamA; Salmonella Choleraesuis; SoxS
The transcriptional activator RamA regulates production of the multidrug resistance efflux AcrAB–TolC system in several Enterobacteriaceae. This study investigated factors that lead to increased expression of ramA.
In order to monitor changes in ramA expression, the promoter region of ramA was fused to a gfp gene encoding an unstable green fluorescence protein (GFP) on the reporter plasmid, pMW82. The ramA reporter plasmid was transformed into Salmonella Typhimurium SL1344 and a ΔacrB mutant. The response of the reporter to subinhibitory concentrations of antibiotics, dyes, biocides, psychotropic agents and efflux inhibitors was measured during growth over a 5 h time period.
Our data revealed that the expression of ramA was increased in a ΔacrB mutant and also in the presence of the efflux inhibitors phenylalanine-arginine-β-naphthylamide, carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone and 1-(1-naphthylmethyl)-piperazine. The phenothiazines chlorpromazine and thioridazine also increased ramA expression, triggering the greatest increase in GFP expression. However, inducers of Escherichia coli marA and soxS and 12 of 17 tested antibiotic substrates of AcrAB–TolC did not induce ramA expression.
This study shows that expression of ramA is not induced by most substrates of the AcrAB–TolC efflux system, but is increased by mutational inactivation of acrB or when efflux is inhibited.
antibiotic resistance; efflux inhibitors; phenothiazines
The mechanisms by which RND pumps contribute to pathogenicity are currently not understood. Using the AcrAB-TolC system as a paradigm multidrug-resistant efflux pump and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium as a model pathogen, we have demonstrated that AcrA, AcrB, and TolC are each required for efficient adhesion to and invasion of epithelial cells and macrophages by Salmonella in vitro. In addition, AcrB and TolC are necessary for Salmonella to colonize poultry. Mutants lacking acrA, acrB, or tolC showed differential expression of major operons and proteins involved in pathogenesis. These included chemotaxis and motility genes, including cheWY and flgLMK and 14 Salmonella pathogenicity island (SPI)-1-encoded type III secretion system genes, including sopE, and associated effector proteins. Reverse transcription-PCR confirmed these data for identical mutants in two other S. Typhimurium backgrounds. Western blotting showed reduced production of SipA, SipB, and SipC. The absence of AcrB or TolC also caused widespread repression of chemotaxis and motility genes in these mutants, and for acrB::aph, this was associated with decreased motility. For mutants lacking a functional acrA or acrB gene, the nap and nir operons were repressed, and both mutants grew poorly in anaerobic conditions. All phenotypes were restored to that of the wild type by trans-complementation with the wild-type allele of the respective inactivated gene. These data explain how mutants lacking a component of AcrAB-TolC are attenuated and that this phenotype is a result of decreased expression of numerous genes encoding proteins involved in pathogenicity. The link between antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity establishes the AcrAB-TolC system as fundamental to the biology of Salmonella.
AcrAB-TolC is the major, constitutively expressed efflux protein complex that provides resistance to a variety of antimicrobial agents in Escherichia coli. Previous studies showed that AcrA, a periplasmic protein of the membrane fusion protein family, could function with at least two other resistance-nodulation-division family pumps, AcrD and AcrF, in addition to its cognate partner, AcrB. We found that, among other E. coli resistance-nodulation-division pumps, YhiV, but not MdtB or MdtC, could also function with AcrA. When AcrB was assessed for the capacity to function with AcrA homologs, only AcrE, but not YhiU or MdtA, could complement an AcrA deficiency. Since AcrA could, but YhiU could not, function with AcrB, we engineered a series of chimeric mutants of these proteins in order to determine the domain(s) of AcrA that is required for its support of AcrB function. The 290-residue N-terminal segment of the 398-residue protein AcrA could be replaced with a sequence coding for the corresponding region of YhiU, but replacement of the region between residues 290 and 357 produced a protein incapable of functioning with AcrB. In contrast, the replacement of residues 357 through 397 of AcrA still produced a functional protein. We conclude that a small region of AcrA close to, but not at, its C terminus is involved in the interaction with its cognate pump protein, AcrB.
Overexpression of ramA has been implicated in resistance to multiple drugs in several enterobacterial pathogens. In the present study, Salmonella Typhimurium strain LTL with constitutive expression of ramA was compared to its ramA-deletion mutant by employing both DNA microarrays and phenotype microarrays (PM). The mutant strain with the disruption of ramA showed differential expression of at least 33 genes involved in 11 functional groups. The study confirmed at the transcriptional level that the constitutive expression of ramA was directly associated with increased expression of multidrug efflux pump AcrAB-TolC and decreased expression of porin protein OmpF, thereby conferring multiple drug resistance phenotype. Compared to the parent strain constitutively expressing ramA, the ramA mutant had increased susceptibility to over 70 antimicrobials and toxic compounds. The PM analysis also uncovered that the ramA mutant was better in utilization of 10 carbon sources and 5 phosphorus sources. This study suggested that the constitutive expression of ramA locus regulate not only multidrug efflux pump and accessory genes but also genes involved in carbon metabolic pathways.
Multidrug resistance (MDR) in Enterobacter aerogenes can be mediated by induction of MarA, which is triggered by certain antibiotics and phenolic compounds. In this study, we identified the gene encoding RamA, a 113-amino-acid regulatory protein belonging to the AraC-XylS transcriptional activator family, in the Enterobacter aerogenes ATCC 13048 type strain and in a clinical multiresistant isolate. Overexpression of RamA induced an MDR phenotype in drug-susceptible Escherichia coli JM109 and E. aerogenes ATCC 13048, as demonstrated by 2- to 16-fold-increased resistance to β-lactams, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, and quinolones, a decrease in porin production, and increased production of AcrA, a component of the AcrAB-TolC drug efflux pump. We show that RamA enhances the transcription of the marRAB operon but is also able to induce an MDR phenotype in a mar-deleted strain. We demonstrate here that RamA is a transcriptional activator of the Mar regulon and is also a self-governing activator of the MDR cascade.
AcrAB-TolC is a constitutively expressed, tripartite efflux transporter complex that functions as the primary resistance mechanism to lipophilic drugs, dyes, detergents, and bile acids in Escherichia coli. TolC is an outer membrane channel, and AcrA is an elongated lipoprotein that is hypothesized to span the periplasm and coordinate efflux of such substrates by AcrB and TolC. AcrD is an efflux transporter of E. coli that provides resistance to aminoglycosides as well as to a limited range of amphiphilic agents, such as bile acids, novobiocin, and fusidic acid. AcrB and AcrD belong to the resistance nodulation division superfamily and share a similar topology, which includes a pair of large periplasmic loops containing more than 300 amino acid residues each. We used this knowledge to test several plasmid-encoded chimeric constructs of acrD and acrB for substrate specificity in a marR1 ΔacrB ΔacrD host. AcrD chimeras were constructed in which the large, periplasmic loops between transmembrane domains 1 and 2 and 7 and 8 were replaced with the corresponding loops of AcrB. Such constructs provided resistance to AcrB substrates at levels similar to native AcrB. Conversely, AcrB chimeras containing both loops of AcrD conferred resistance only to the typical substrates of AcrD. These results cannot be explained by simply assuming that AcrD, not hitherto known to interact with AcrA, acquired this ability by the introduction of the loop regions of AcrB, because (i) both AcrD and AcrA were found, in this study, to be required for the efflux of amphiphilic substrates, and (ii) chemical cross-linking in intact cells efficiently produced complexes between AcrD and AcrA. Since AcrD can already interact with AcrA, the alterations in substrate range accompanying the exchange of loop regions can only mean that substrate recognition (and presumably binding) is determined largely by the two periplasmic loops.
The relationship between efflux system overexpression and cross-resistance to cefoxitin, quinolones, and chloramphenicol has recently been reported in Klebsiella pneumoniae. In 3 previously published clinical isolates and 17 in vitro mutants selected with cefoxitin or fluoroquinolones, mutations in the potential regulator genes of the AcrAB efflux pump (acrR, ramR, ramA, marR, marA, soxR, soxS, and rob) were searched, and their impacts on efflux-related antibiotic cross-resistance were assessed. All mutants but 1, and 2 clinical isolates, overexpressed acrB. No mutation was detected in the regulator genes studied among the clinical isolates and 8 of the mutants. For the 9 remaining mutants, a mutation was found in the ramR gene in 8 of them and in the soxR gene in the last one, resulting in overexpression of ramA and soxS, respectively. Transformation of the ramR mutants and the soxR mutant with the wild-type ramR and soxR genes, respectively, abolished overexpression of acrB and ramA in the ramR mutants and of soxS in the soxR mutant, as well as antibiotic cross-resistance. Resistance due to efflux system overexpression was demonstrated for 4 new antibiotics: cefuroxime, cefotaxime, ceftazidime, and ertapenem. This study shows that the ramR and soxR genes control the expression of efflux systems in K. pneumoniae and suggests the existence of efflux pumps other than AcrAB and of other loci involved in the regulation of AcrAB expression.
The transcriptional activator RamA is involved in multidrug resistance (MDR) by increasing expression of the AcrAB-TolC RND-type efflux system in several pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae. In Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium), ramA expression is negatively regulated at the local level by RamR, a transcriptional repressor of the TetR family. We here studied the DNA-binding activity of the RamR repressor with the ramA promoter (PramA). As determined by high-resolution footprinting, the 28-bp-long RamR binding site covers essential features of PramA, including the −10 conserved region, the transcriptional start site of ramA, and two 7-bp inverted repeats. Based on the RamR footprint and on electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs), we propose that RamR interacts with PramA as a dimer of dimers, in a fashion that is structurally similar to the QacR-DNA binding model. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) measurements indicated that RamR has a 3-fold-lower affinity (KD [equilibrium dissociation constant] = 191 nM) for the 2-bp-deleted PramA of an MDR S. Typhimurium clinical isolate than for the wild-type PramA (KD = 66 nM). These results confirm the direct regulatory role of RamR in the repression of ramA transcription and precisely define how an alteration of its binding site can give rise to an MDR phenotype.
Tigecycline resistance in Klebsiella pneumoniae results from ramA upregulation that causes the overexpression of the efflux pump, AcrAB-TolC. Tigecycline mutants, derived from Ecl8ΔramA, can exhibit a multidrug resistance phenotype due to increased transcription of the marA, rarA, acrAB, and oqxAB genes. These findings support the idea that tigecycline or multidrug resistance in K. pneumoniae, first, is not solely dependent on the ramA gene, and second, can arise via alternative regulatory pathways in K. pneumoniae.
Transcriptional regulators, such as SoxS, RamA, MarA, and Rob, which upregulate the AcrAB efflux pump, have been shown to be associated with multidrug resistance in clinically relevant Gram-negative bacteria. In addition to the multidrug resistance phenotype, these regulators have also been shown to play a role in the cellular metabolism and possibly the virulence potential of microbial cells. As such, the increased expression of these proteins is likely to cause pleiotropic phenotypes. Klebsiella pneumoniae is a major nosocomial pathogen which can express the SoxS, MarA, Rob, and RamA proteins, and the accompanying paper shows that the increased transcription of ramA is associated with tigecycline resistance (M. Veleba and T. Schneiders, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 56:4466–4467, 2012). Bioinformatic analyses of the available Klebsiella genome sequences show that an additional AraC-type regulator is encoded chromosomally. In this work, we characterize this novel AraC-type regulator, hereby called RarA (Regulator of antibiotic resistance A), which is encoded in K. pneumoniae, Enterobacter sp. 638, Serratia proteamaculans 568, and Enterobacter cloacae. We show that the overexpression of rarA results in a multidrug resistance phenotype which requires a functional AcrAB efflux pump but is independent of the other AraC regulators. Quantitative real-time PCR experiments show that rarA (MGH 78578 KPN_02968) and its neighboring efflux pump operon oqxAB (KPN_02969_02970) are consistently upregulated in clinical isolates collected from various geographical locations (Chile, Turkey, and Germany). Our results suggest that rarA overexpression upregulates the oqxAB efflux pump. Additionally, it appears that oqxR, encoding a GntR-type regulator adjacent to the oqxAB operon, is able to downregulate the expression of the oqxAB efflux pump, where OqxR complementation resulted in reductions to olaquindox MICs.
The AcrAB-TolC efflux pump plays an intrinsic role in resistance to hydrophobic solvents in Escherichia coli. E. coli OST5500 is hypersensitive to solvents due to inactivation of the acrB gene by insertion of IS30. Suppressor mutants showing high solvent resistance were isolated from OST5500. These mutants produced high levels of AcrE and AcrF proteins, which were not produced in OST5500, and in each mutant an insertion sequence (IS1 or IS2) was found integrated upstream of the acrEF operon, coding for the two proteins. The suppressor mutants lost solvent resistance on inactivation of the acrEF operon. The solvent hypersensitivity of OST5500 was suppressed by introduction of the acrEF operon with IS1 or IS2 integrated upstream but not by introduction of the operon lacking the integrated IS. It was concluded that IS integration activated acrEF, resulting in functional complementation of the acrB mutation. The acrB mutation was also complemented by a plasmid containing acrF or acrEF under the control of Plac. The wild-type tolC gene was found to be essential for complementation of the acrB mutation by acrEF. Thus, it is concluded that in these cells a combination of the proteins AcrA, AcrF, and TolC or the proteins AcrE, AcrF, and TolC is functional in solvent efflux instead of the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump.
High-level fluoroquinolone (FQ) resistance in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium phage type DT204 has been previously shown to be essentially due to both multiple target gene mutations and active efflux by the AcrAB-TolC efflux system. In this study we show that in intermediatly resistant acrB-inactivated serovar Typhimurium DT204 mutants, high-level resistance to FQs can be restored on in vitro selection with FQs. In each FQ- resistant mutant selected from serovar Typhimurium DT204 acrB mutant strains, an insertion sequence (IS1 or IS10) was found integrated upstream of the acrEF operon, coding for AcrEF, an efflux pump highly homologous to AcrAB. In one of the strains, transposition of IS1 caused partial deletion of acrS, the putative local repressor gene of the acrEF operon. Sequence analysis showed that both IS1 and IS10 elements contain putative promoter sequences that might alter the expression of adjacent acrEF genes. Indeed, reverse transcription-PCR experiments showed an 8- to 10-fold increase in expression of acrF in these insertional mutants, relative to their respective parental strain, which correlated well with the resistance levels observed to FQs and other unrelated drugs. It is noteworthy that AcrEF did not contribute to the intrinsic drug resistance of serovar Typhimurium, since acrF deletion in wild-type strains did not result in any increase in drug susceptibility. Moreover, deletion of acrS did not cause any acrF overexpression or any decrease in drug susceptibility, suggesting that acrEF overexpression is mediated solely by the IS1 and IS10 promoter sequences and not by inactivity of AcrS. Southern blot experiments showed that the number of chromosomal IS1 and IS10 elements in the serovar Typhimurium DT204 genome was about 5 and 15 respectively. None were detected in epidemic serovar Typhimurium DT104 strains or in the serovar Typhimurium reference strain LT2. Carrying IS1 and/or IS10 elements in their chromosome may thus be a selective advantage for serovar Typhimurium DT204 strains as opposed to DT104 strains for which no high-level FQ resistance nor insertional mutations were found. Taken together, the results of the present study indicate that the IS1- or IS10- activated AcrEF efflux pump may relay AcrAB in serovar Typhimurium, and underline the importance of transposable elements in the acquisition of FQ and multidrug resistance.
Multidrug resistance (MDR) in clinical isolates of Escherichia coli can be associated with overexpression of marA, a transcription factor that upregulates multidrug efflux and downregulates membrane permeability. Using random transposome mutagenesis, we found that many chromosomal genes and environmental stimuli affected MarA-mediated antibiotic resistance. Seven genes affected resistance mediated by MarA in an antibiotic-specific way; these were mostly genes encoding unrelated enzymes, transporters, and unknown proteins. Other genes affected MarA-mediated resistance to all antibiotics tested. These genes were acrA, acrB, and tolC (which encode the major MarA-regulated multidrug efflux pump AcrAB-TolC), crp, cyaA, hns, and pcnB (four genes involved in global regulation of gene expression), and the unknown gene damX. The last five genes affected MarA-mediated MDR by altering marA expression or MarA function specifically on acrA. These findings demonstrate that MarA-mediated MDR is regulated at multiple levels by different genes and stimuli, which makes it both complex and fine-tuned and interconnects it with global cell regulation and metabolism. Such a regulation could contribute to the adaptation and spread of MDR strains and may be targeted to treat antibiotic-resistant E. coli and related pathogens.
AcrAB-TolC is the major multidrug efflux system in Enterobacteriaceae recognizing structurally unrelated molecules including antibiotics, dyes, and detergents. Additionally, in Escherichia coli it mediates resistance to bile salts. In the plant pathogen Erwinia amylovora AcrAB-TolC is required for virulence and phytoalexin resistance. Exchange analysis of AcrAB-TolC was conducted by complementing mutants of both species defective in acrB or tolC with alleles from either species. The acrB and tolC mutants exhibited increased susceptibility profiles for 24 different antibiotics. All mutants were complemented with acrAB or tolC, respectively, regardless of the taxonomic origin of the alleles. Importantly, complementation of E. amylovora mutants with respective E. coli genes restored virulence on apple plants. It was concluded that AcrAB and TolC of both species could interact and that these interactions did not yield in altered functions despite the divergent ecological niches, to which E. coli and E. amylovora have adopted.
Erwinia amylovora; Escherichia coli; TolC; AcrAB; multidrug efflux
In Escherichia coli, the intrinsic levels of resistance to multiple antimicrobial agents are produced through expression of the three-component multidrug efflux system AcrAB-TolC. AcrB is a proton-motive-force-dependent transporter located in the inner membrane, and AcrA and TolC are accessory proteins located in the periplasm and the outer membrane, respectively. In this study, these three proteins were expressed separately, and the interactions between them were analyzed by chemical cross-linking in intact cells. We show that AcrA protein forms oligomers, most probably trimers. In this oligomeric form, AcrA interacts specifically with AcrB transporter independently of substrate and TolC.
Multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium definitive phage type 104 (DT104) strains harbor a genomic island, called Salmonella genomic island 1 (SGI1), which contains an antibiotic resistance gene cluster conferring resistance to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, florfenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines. They may be additionally resistant to quinolones. Among the antibiotic resistance genes there are two, i.e., floR and tet(G), which code for efflux pumps of the major facilitator superfamily with 12 transmembrane segments that confer resistance to chloramphenicol-florfenicol and the tetracyclines, respectively. In the present study we determined, by constructing acrB and tolC mutants, the role of the AcrAB-TolC multidrug efflux system in the multidrug resistance of several DT104 strains displaying additional quinolone resistance or not displaying quinolone resistance. This study shows that the quinolone resistance and the decreased fluoroquinolone susceptibilities of the strains are highly dependent on the AcrAB-TolC efflux system and that single mutations in the quinolone resistance-determining region of gyrA are of little relevance in mediating this resistance. Overproduction of the AcrAB efflux pump, as determined by Western blotting with an anti-AcrA polyclonal antibody, appeared to be the major mechanism of resistance to quinolones. Moreover, chloramphenicol-florfenicol and tetracycline resistance also appeared to be highly dependent on the presence of AcrAB-TolC, since the introduction of mutations in the respective acrB and tolC genes resulted in a susceptible or intermediate resistance phenotype, according to clinical MIC breakpoints, despite the presence of the FloR and Tet(G) efflux pumps. Resistance to other antibiotics, ampicillin, streptomycin, and sulfonamides, was not affected in the acrB and tolC mutants of DT104 strains harboring SGI1. Therefore, AcrAB-TolC appears to direct efflux-mediated resistance to quinolones, chloramphenicol-florfenicol, and tetracyclines in multidrug-resistant S. enterica serovar Typhimurium DT104 strains.
In Escherichia coli, the TolC–AcrAB complex forms a major antibiotic efflux system with broad substrate specificity. During the complex assembly, the periplasmic helices and bottom turns of TolC are thought to interact with a hairpin helix of AcrA and hairpin loops of AcrB respectively. In the present study we show that a four-residue substitution in TolC’s turn 1, which connects outer helices 3 and 4 proximal to TolC’s periplasmic aperture, confers antibiotic hypersensitivity without affecting TolC-mediated phage or colicin infection. However, despite the null-like drug sensitivity phenotype, chemical cross-linking analysis revealed no apparent defects in the ability of the mutant TolC protein to physically interact with AcrA and AcrB. A role for TolC turn 1 residues in the functional assembly of the tripartite efflux pump complex was uncovered through isolating suppressor mutations of the mutant TolC protein that mapped within acrA and by utilizing a labile AcrA protein. The data showed that AcrA-mediated suppression of antibiotic sensitivity was achieved by dilating the TolC aperture/channel in an AcrB-dependent manner. The results underscore the importance of the periplasmic turn 1 of TolC in the functional assembly of the tripartite efflux complex and AcrA in transitioning TolC from its closed to open state.
This paper provides the biochemical evidence for physical interactions between the outer membrane component, TolC, and the membrane fusion protein component, AcrA, of the major antibiotic efflux pump of Escherichia coli. Cross-linking between TolC and AcrA was independent of the presence of any externally added substrate of the efflux pump or of the pump protein, AcrB. The biochemical demonstration of a TolC-AcrA interaction is consistent with genetic studies in which extragenic suppressors of a mutant TolC strain were found in the acrA gene.
The transcriptomes of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 lacking a functional ramA or ramR or with plasmid-mediated high-level overexpression of ramA were compared to those of the wild-type parental strain. Inactivation of ramA led to increased expression of 14 SPI-1 genes and decreased expression of three SPI-2 genes, and it altered expression of ribosomal biosynthetic genes and several amino acid biosynthetic pathways. Furthermore, disruption of ramA led to decreased survival within RAW 264.7 mouse macrophages and attenuation within the BALB/c ByJ mouse model. Highly overexpressed ramA led to increased expression of genes encoding multidrug resistance (MDR) efflux pumps, including acrAB, acrEF, and tolC. Decreased expression of 34 Salmonella pathogenicity island (SPI) 1 and 2 genes, decreased SipC production, decreased adhesion to and survival within macrophages, and decreased colonization of Caenorhabditis elegans were also seen. Disruption of ramR led to the increased expression of ramA, acrAB, and tolC, but not to the same level as when ramA was overexpressed on a plasmid. Inactivation of ramR had a more limited effect on pathogenicity gene expression. In silico analysis of a suggested RamA-binding consensus sequence identified target genes, including ramR, acrA, tolC, sipABC, and ssrA. This study demonstrates that the regulation of a mechanism of MDR and expression of virulence genes show considerable overlap, and we postulate that such a mechanism is dependent on transcriptional activator concentration and promoter sensitivity. However, we have no evidence to support the hypothesis that increased MDR via RamA regulation of AcrAB-TolC gives rise to a hypervirulent strain.
Control of membrane permeability is a key step in regulating the intracellular concentration of antibiotics. Efflux pumps confer innate resistance to a wide range of toxic compounds such as antibiotics, dyes, detergents, and disinfectants in members of the Enterobacteriaceae. The AcrAB-TolC efflux pump is involved in multidrug resistance in Enterobacter cloacae. However, the underlying mechanism that regulates the system in this microorganism remains unknown. In Escherichia coli, the transcription of acrAB is upregulated under global stress conditions by proteins such as MarA, SoxS, and Rob. In the present study, two clinical isolates of E. cloacae, EcDC64 (a multidrug-resistant strain overexpressing the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump) and Jc194 (a strain with a basal AcrAB-TolC expression level), were used to determine whether similar global stress responses operate in E. cloacae and also to establish the molecular mechanisms underlying this response. A decrease in susceptibility to erythromycin, tetracycline, telithromycin, ciprofloxacin, and chloramphenicol was observed in clinical isolate Jc194 and, to a lesser extent in EcDC64, in the presence of salicylate, decanoate, tetracycline, and paraquat. Increased expression of the acrAB promoter in the presence of the above-described conditions was observed by flow cytometry and reverse transcription-PCR, by using a reporter fusion protein (green fluorescent protein). The expression level of the AcrAB promoter decreased in E. cloacae EcDC64 derivates deficient in SoxS, RobA, and RamA. Accordingly, the expression level of the AcrAB promoter was higher in E. cloacae Jc194 strains overproducing SoxS, RobA, and RamA. Overall, the data showed that SoxS, RobA, and RamA regulators were associated with the upregulation of acrAB, thus conferring antimicrobial resistance as well as a stress response in E. cloacae. In summary, the regulatory proteins SoxS, RobA, and RamA were cloned and sequenced for the first time in this species. The involvement of these proteins in conferring antimicrobial resistance through upregulation of acrAB was demonstrated in E. cloacae.
Escherichia coli excretes the catecholate siderophore enterobactin in response to iron deprivation. While the mechanisms underlying enterobactin biosynthesis and ferric enterobactin uptake and utilization are widely understood, nearly nothing is known about how enterobactin is exported from the cell. Mutant and high-performance liquid chromatography analyses demonstrated that the outer membrane channel tunnel protein TolC but none of the respective seven resistance nodulation cell division (RND) proteins CusA, AcrB, AcrD, AcrF, MdtF (YhiV), or the twin RND MdtBC (YegNO) was essential for enterobactin export across the outer membrane. Mutant E. coli strains with additional deletion of tolC or the major facilitator entS were growth deficient in iron-depleted medium. Strains with deletion of tolC or entS, but not with deletion of genes encoding RND transporters, excreted very little enterobactin into the growth medium. Enterobactin excretion in E. coli is thus probably a two-step process involving the major facilitator EntS and the outer membrane channel tunnel protein TolC. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis of gene-specific transcripts showed no significant changes in tolC expression upon iron depletion. However, iron starvation led to increased expression of the RND gene mdtF and a decrease in acrD.