In the sequenced genome of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strain LT2, an open reading frame (STM0580) coding for a putative regulatory protein of the TetR family is found upstream of the ramA gene. Overexpression of ramA results in increased expression of the AcrAB efflux pump and, consequently, multidrug resistance (MDR) in several bacterial species. The inactivation of the putative regulatory protein gene upstream of ramA in a susceptible serovar Typhimurium strain resulted in an MDR phenotype with fourfold increases in the MICs of unrelated antibiotics, such as quinolones/fluoroquinolones, phenicols, and tetracycline. The inactivation of this gene also resulted in a fourfold increase in the expression of ramA and a fourfold increase in the expression of the AcrAB efflux pump. These results indicated that the gene encodes a local repressor of ramA and was thus named ramR. In contrast, the inactivation of marR, marA, soxR, and soxS did not affect the susceptibilities of the strain. In quinolone- or fluoroquinolone-resistant strains of serovar Typhimurium overexpressing AcrAB, several point mutations which resulted in amino acid changes or an in-frame shift were identified in ramR; in addition, mutations interrupting ramR with an IS1 element were identified in high-level fluoroquinolone-resistant serovar Typhimurium DT204 strains. One serovar Typhimurium DT104 isolate had a 2-nucleotide deletion in the putative RamR binding site found upstream of ramA. These mutations were confirmed to play a role in the MDR phenotype by complementing the isolates with an intact ramR gene or by inactivating their respective ramA gene. No mutations in the mar or sox region were found in the strains studied. In conclusion, mutations in ramR appear to play a major role in the upregulation of RamA and AcrAB and, consequently, in the efflux-mediated MDR phenotype of serovar Typhimurium.
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.
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
Active efflux pump is a primary fluoroquinolone resistant mechanism of clinical isolates of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. RamA is an essential element in producing multidrug resistant (MDR) S.enterica serovar Typhimurium. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the roles of RamA on the development of ciprofloxacin, the first choice for the treatment of salmonellosis, resistance in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium. Spontaneous mutants were selected via several passages of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium CVCC541 susceptible strain (ST) on M-H agar with increasing concentrations of ciprofloxacin (CIP). Accumulation of ciprofloxacin was tested by the modified fluorometric method. The expression levels of MDR efflux pumps were determined by real time RT-PCR. In ST and its spontaneous mutants, the ramA gene was inactivated by insertion of the kan gene and compensated on a recombinant plasmid pGEXΦ(gst-ramA). The mutant prevention concentration (MPC) and mutant frequencies of ciprofloxacin against ST and a spontaneous mutant in the presence, absence and overexpression of RamA were tested. Four spontaneous mutants (SI1-SI4) were obtained. The SI1 (CIP MICs, 0.1 mg/L) without any target site mutation in its quinolone resistant determining regions (QRDRs) and SI3 (CIP MICs, 16 mg/L) harboring the Ser83→Phe mutation in its QRDR of GyrA strains exhibited reduced susceptibility and resistance to multidrugs, respectively. In SI1, RamA was the main factor that controlled the susceptibility to ciprofloxacin by activating MdtK as well as increasing the expression level of acrAB. In SI3, RamA played predominant role in ciprofloxacin resistance via increasing the expression level of acrAB. Likewise, the deficiency of RamA decreased the MPCs and mutant frequencies of ST and SI2 to ciprofloxacin. In conclusion, the expression of RamA promoted the development of ciprofloxacin resistant mutants of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium. The inhibition of RamA could decrease the appearance of the ciprofloxacin resistant mutants.
RamA is a transcription factor involved in regulating multidrug resistance in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter fusions were exploited to investigate the regulation of RamA expression by RamR. We show that RamR represses the ramA promoter by binding to a palindromic sequence and describe a superrepressor RamR mutant that binds to the ramA promoter sequence more efficiently, thus exhibiting a ramA inactivated phenotype.
RamA regulates the AcrAB-TolC multidrug efflux system. Using Salmonella Typhimurium, we investigated the stability of RamA and its impact on antibiotic resistance.
To detect RamA, we introduced ramA::3XFLAG::aph into plasmid pACYC184 and transformed this into Salmonella Typhimurium SL1344ramA::cat and lon::aph mutants. An N-terminus-deleted mutant [pACYC184ramA(Δ2-21)::3XFLAG::aph] in which the first 20 amino acids of RamA were deleted was also constructed. To determine the abundance and half-life of FLAG-tagged RamA, we induced RamA with chlorpromazine (50 mg/L) and carried out western blotting using anti-FLAG antibody. Susceptibility to antibiotics and phenotypic characterization of the lon mutant was also carried out.
We show that on removal of chlorpromazine, a known inducer of ramA, the abundance of RamA decreased to pre-induced levels. However, in cells lacking functional Lon, we found that the RamA protein was not degraded. We also demonstrated that the 21 amino acid residues of the RamA N-terminus are required for recognition by the Lon protease. Antimicrobial susceptibility and phenotypic tests showed that the lon mutant was more susceptible to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, was filamentous when observed by microscopy and grew poorly, but showed no difference in motility or the ability to form a biofilm. There was also no difference in the ability of the lon mutant to invade human intestinal cells (INT-407).
In summary, we show that the ATP-dependent Lon protease plays an important role in regulating the expression of RamA and therefore multidrug resistance via AcrAB-TolC in Salmonella Typhimurium.
Salmonella; transcription factors; proteolysis
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
We experimentally identified and characterized 97 novel, non-protein-coding RNA candidates (npcRNAs) from the human pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (hereafter referred to as S. typhi). Three were specific to S. typhi, 22 were restricted to Salmonella species and 33 were differentially expressed during S. typhi growth. We also identified Salmonella Pathogenicity Island-derived npcRNAs that might be involved in regulatory mechanisms of virulence, antibiotic resistance and pathogenic specificity of S. typhi. An in-depth characterization of S. typhi StyR-3 npcRNA showed that it specifically interacts with RamR, the transcriptional repressor of the ramA gene, which is involved in the multidrug resistance (MDR) of Salmonella. StyR-3 interfered with RamR–DNA binding activity and thus potentially plays a role in regulating ramA gene expression, resulting in the MDR phenotype. Our study also revealed a large number of cis-encoded antisense npcRNA candidates, supporting previous observations of global sense–antisense regulatory networks in bacteria. Finally, at least six of the npcRNA candidates interacted with the S. typhi Hfq protein, supporting an important role of Hfq in npcRNA networks. This study points to novel functional npcRNA candidates potentially involved in various regulatory roles including the pathogenicity of S. typhi.
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.
Tigecycline resistance has been attributed to ramA overexpression and subsequent acrA upregulation. The ramA locus, originally identified in Klebsiella pneumoniae, has homologues in Enterobacter and Salmonella spp. In this study, we identify in silico that the ramR binding site is also present in Citrobacter spp. and that Enterobacter, Citrobacter and Klebsiella spp. share key regulatory elements in the control of the romA–ramA locus. RACE (rapid amplification of cDNA ends) mapping indicated that there are two promoters from which romA–ramA expression can be regulated in K. pneumoniae. Correspondingly, electrophoretic binding studies clearly showed that purified RamA and RamR proteins bind to both of these promoters. Hence, there appear to be two RamR binding sites within the Klebsiella romA–ramA locus. Like MarA, RamA binds the promoter region, implying that it might be subject to autoregulation. We have identified changes within ramR in geographically distinct clinical isolates of K. pneumoniae. Intriguingly, levels of romA and ramA expression were not uniformly affected by changes within the ramR gene, thereby supporting the dual promoter finding. Furthermore, a subset of strains sustained no changes within the ramR gene but which still overexpressed the romA–ramA genes, strongly suggesting that a secondary regulator may control ramA expression.
Klebsiella pneumoniae; romA; ramA; ramR; acrA; Tigecycline
Tigecycline nonsusceptibility is concerning because tigecycline is increasingly relied upon to treat carbapenem- or colistin-resistant organisms. In Enterobacteriaceae, tigecycline nonsusceptibility is mediated by the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump, among others, and pump activity is often a downstream effect of mutations in their transcriptional regulators, cognate repressor genes, or noncoding regions, as demonstrated in Enterobacteriaceae and Acinetobacter isolates. Here, we report the emergence of tigecycline nonsusceptibility in a longitudinal series of multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates collected during tigecycline therapy and the elucidation of its resistance mechanisms. Clinical isolates were recovered prior to and during tigecycline therapy of a 2.5-month-old Honduran neonate. Antimicrobial susceptibility tests to tigecycline determined that the MIC increased from 1 to 4 μg/ml prior to the completion of tigecycline therapy. Unlike other studies, we did not find increased expression of ramA, ramR, oqxA, acrB, marA, or rarA genes by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR). Whole-genome sequencing revealed an IS5 insertion element in nonsusceptible isolates 85 bp upstream of a putative efflux pump operon, here named kpgABC, previously unknown to be involved in resistance. Introduction of the kpgABC genes in a non-kpgABC background increased the MIC of tigecycline 4-fold and is independent of a functional AcrAB-TolC pump. This is the first report to propose a function for kpgABC and identify an insertion element whose presence correlated with the in vivo development of tigecycline nonsusceptibility in K. pneumoniae.
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344, in which efflux pump genes (acrB, acrD, acrF, tolC) or regulatory genes thereof (marA, soxS, ramA) were inactivated, was grown in the presence of 240 antimicrobial and nonantimicrobial agents in the Biolog Phenotype MicroArray. Mutants lacking tolC, acrB, and ramA grew significantly worse than other mutants in the presence of 48 agents (some of which have not previously been identified as substrates of AcrAB-TolC) and particularly poorly in the presence of phenothiazines, which are human antipsychotics. MIC testing revealed that the phenothiazine chlorpromazine had antimicrobial activity and synergized with common antibiotics against different Salmonella serovars and SL1344. Chlorpromazine increased the intracellular accumulation of ethidium bromide, which was ablated in mutants lacking acrB, suggesting an interaction with AcrB. High-level but not low-level overexpression of ramA increased the expression of acrB; conferred resistance to chloramphenicol, tetracycline, nalidixic acid, and triclosan and organic solvent tolerance; and increased the amount of ethidium bromide accumulated. Chlorpromazine induced the modest overproduction of ramA but repressed acrB. These data suggest that phenothiazines are not efflux pump inhibitors but influence gene expression, including that of acrB, which confers the synergy with antimicrobials observed.
The transcriptional regulation of Corynebacterium glutamicum gnd, encoding 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase, was investigated. Two transcriptional regulators, GntR1 and RamA, were isolated by affinity purification using gnd promoter DNA. GntR1 was previously identified as a repressor of gluconate utilization genes, including gnd. Involvement of RamA in gnd expression had not been investigated to date. The level of gnd mRNA was barely affected by the single deletion of ramA. However, gnd expression was downregulated in the ramA gntR1 double mutant compared to that of the gntR1 single mutant, suggesting that RamA activates gnd expression. Two RamA binding sites are found in the 5′ upstream region of gnd. Mutation proximal to the transcriptional start site diminished the gluconate-dependent induction of gnd-lacZ. DNase I footprinting assay revealed two GntR1 binding sites, with one corresponding to a previously proposed site that overlaps with the −10 region. The other site overlaps the RamA binding site. GntR1 binding to this newly identified site inhibits DNA binding of RamA. Therefore, it is likely that GntR1 represses gnd expression by preventing both RNA polymerase and RamA binding to the promoter. In addition, DNA binding activity of RamA was reduced by high concentrations of NAD(P)H but not by NAD(P), implying that RamA senses the redox perturbation of the cell.
SugR, RamA, GlxR, GntR1, and a MarR-type transcriptional regulator bind to the promoter region of the gapA gene encoding glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), essential for glycolysis in Corynebacterium glutamicum. We previously showed that SugR, a transcriptional repressor of phosphotransferase system genes for the sugar transport system, is involved in the downregulation of gapA expression in the absence of sugar. In this study, the role of RamA in the expression of the gapA gene was examined. Comparing the gapA expression and GAPDH activity of a ramA mutant with those of the wild type revealed that RamA is involved in upregulation of gapA expression in glucose-grown cells. DNase I footprint analyses and electrophoretic mobility shift assays revealed that RamA binds with different affinities to three sites in the gapA promoter. lacZ reporter assays with mutated RamA binding sites in the gapA promoter showed that the middle binding site is the most important for RamA to activate gapA expression and that binding of RamA to the gapA promoter activates the gene expression not only in glucose-grown cells but also in acetate-grown cells. Furthermore, RamA also directly activates sugR expression, indicating that two global regulators, RamA and SugR, are coordinately involved in the complex regulation of gapA expression in C. glutamicum.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is a significant human pathogen, in part due to high rates of multidrug resistance. RamA is an intrinsic regulator in K. pneumoniae established to be important for the bacterial response to antimicrobial challenge; however, little is known about its possible wider regulatory role in this organism during infection. In this work, we demonstrate that RamA is a global transcriptional regulator that significantly perturbs the transcriptional landscape of K. pneumoniae, resulting in altered microbe-drug or microbe-host response. This is largely due to the direct regulation of 68 genes associated with a myriad of cellular functions. Importantly, RamA directly binds and activates the lpxC, lpxL-2 and lpxO genes associated with lipid A biosynthesis, thus resulting in modifications within the lipid A moiety of the lipopolysaccharide. RamA-mediated alterations decrease susceptibility to colistin E, polymyxin B and human cationic antimicrobial peptide LL-37. Increased RamA levels reduce K. pneumoniae adhesion and uptake into macrophages, which is supported by in vivo infection studies, that demonstrate increased systemic dissemination of ramA overexpressing K. pneumoniae. These data establish that RamA-mediated regulation directly perturbs microbial surface properties, including lipid A biosynthesis, which facilitate evasion from the innate host response. This highlights RamA as a global regulator that confers pathoadaptive phenotypes with implications for our understanding of the pathogenesis of Enterobacter, Salmonella and Citrobacter spp. that express orthologous RamA proteins.
Bacteria can rapidly evolve under antibiotic pressure to develop resistance, which occurs when target genes mutate, or when resistance-encoding genes are transferred. Alternatively, microbes can simply alter the levels of intrinsic proteins that allow the organism to “buy” time to resist antibiotic pressure. Klebsiella pneumoniae is a pathogen that causes significant blood stream or respiratory infections, but more importantly is a bacterium that is increasingly being reported as multidrug resistant. Our data demonstrate that RamA can trigger changes on the bacterial surface that allow Klebsiella to survive both antibiotic challenge, degradation by host immune peptides and resist phagocytosis. We demonstrate that the molecular basis of increased survival of ramA overexpressing K. pneumoniae, against host-derived factors is associated with RamA-driven alterations of the lipid A moiety of Klebsiella LPS. This modification is likely to be linked to Klebsiella’s ability to resist the host response so that it remains undetected by the immune system. The relevance of our work extends beyond RamA in Klebsiella as other pathogens such as Enterobacter spp and Salmonella spp. also produce this protein. Thus our overarching conclusion is that the intrinsic regulator, RamA perturbs host-microbe and microbe-drug interactions.
The central carbon metabolism genes in Corynebacterium glutamicum are under the control of a transcriptional regulatory network composed of several global regulators. It is known that the promoter region of ramA, encoding one of these regulators, interacts with its gene product, RamA, as well as with the two other regulators, GlxR and SugR, in vitro and/or in vivo. Although RamA has been confirmed to repress its own expression, the roles of GlxR and SugR in ramA expression have remained unclear. In this study, we examined the effects of GlxR binding site inactivation on expression of the ramA promoter-lacZ fusion in the genetic background of single and double deletion mutants of sugR and ramA. In the wild-type background, the ramA promoter activity was reduced to undetectable levels by the introduction of mutations into the GlxR binding site but increased by sugR deletion, indicating that GlxR and SugR function as the transcriptional activator and repressor, respectively. The marked repression of ramA promoter activity by the GlxR binding site mutations was largely compensated for by deletions of sugR and/or ramA. Furthermore, ramA promoter activity in the ramA-sugR double mutant was comparable to that in the ramA mutant but was significantly higher than that in the sugR mutant. Taken together, it is likely that the level of ramA expression is dynamically balanced by GlxR-dependent activation and repression by RamA along with SugR in response to perturbation of extracellular and/or intracellular conditions. These findings add multiple regulatory loops to the transcriptional regulatory network model in C. glutamicum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MarA and its homologue, RamA, have been implicated in multidrug resistance (MDR). RamA overexpression in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Escherichia coli conferred MDR independently of marA. Inactivation of ramA did not affect the antibiotic susceptibilities of wild-type S. enterica serovar Typhimurium or 15 unrelated clinical MDR isolates. Thus, ramA overexpression is not a common MDR mechanism in Salmonella.
KPC-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates have emerged as important pathogens of nosocomial infections, and tigecycline is one of the antibiotics recommended for severe infections caused by KPC-producing K. pneumoniae. To identify the susceptibility profile of KPC-producing K. pneumoniae to tigecycline and investigate the role of efflux pumps in tigecycline resistance, a total of 215 KPC-producing K. pneumoniae isolates were collected. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of tigecycline was determined by standard broth microdilution tests. Isolates showing resistance to tigecycline underwent susceptibility test with efflux pump inhibitors. Expression levels of efflux pump genes (acrB and oqxB) and their regulators (ramA, marA, soxS and rarA) were examined by real-time PCR, and the correlation between tigecycline MICs and gene expression levels were analysed. Our results show that the tigecycline resistance rate in these isolates was 11.2%. Exposure of the tigecycline-resistant isolates to the efflux pump inhibitor NMP resulted in an obvious decrease in MICs and restored susceptibility to tigecycline in 91.7% of the isolates. A statistically significant association between acrB expression and tigecycline MICs was observed, and overexpression of ramA was found in three tigecycline-resistant isolates, further analysis confirmed ramR mutations existed in these isolates. Transformation of one mutant with wild-type ramR restored susceptibility to tigecycline and repressed overexpression of ramA and acrB. These data indicate that efflux pump AcrAB, which can be up-regulated by ramR mutations and subsequent ramA activation, contributed to tigecycline resistance in K. pneumoniae clinical isolates.
Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium have evolved genetic systems, such as the soxR/S and marA regulons, to detoxify reactive oxygen species, like superoxide, which are formed as by-products of metabolism. Superoxide also serves as a microbicidal effector mechanism of the host's phagocytes. Here, we investigate whether regulatory genes other than soxR/S and marA are active in response to oxidative stress in Salmonella and may function as virulence determinants. We identified a bacterial gene, which was designated ramA (342 bp) and mapped at 13.1 min on the Salmonella chromosome, that, when overexpressed on a plasmid in E. coli or Salmonella, confers a pleiotropic phenotype characterized by increased resistance to the redox-cycling agent menadione and to multiple unrelated antibiotics. The ramA gene is present in Salmonella serovars but is absent in E. coli. The gene product displays 37 to 52% homology to the transcriptional activators soxR/S and marA and 80 to 100% identity to a multidrug resistance gene in Klebsiella pneumoniae and Salmonella enterica serovar Paratyphi A. Although a ramA soxR/S double null mutant is highly susceptible to intracellular superoxide generated by menadione and displays decreased Mn-superoxide dismutase activity, intracellular survival of this mutant within macrophage-like RAW 264.7 cells and in vivo replication in the spleens in Ityr mice are not affected. We concluded that despite its role in the protective response of the bacteria to oxidative stress in vitro, the newly identified ramA gene, together with soxR/S, does not play a role in initial replication of Salmonella in the organs of mice.
Full genome sequences were determined for five Klebsiella pneumoniae strains belonging to the sequence type 512 (ST512) clone, producing KPC-3. Three strains were resistant to tigecycline, one showed an intermediate phenotype, and one was susceptible. Comparative analysis performed using the genome of the susceptible strain as a reference sequence identified genetic differences possibly associated with resistance to tigecycline. Results demonstrated that mutations in the ramR gene occurred in two of the three sequenced strains. Mutations in RamR were previously demonstrated to cause overexpression of the AcrAB-TolC efflux system and were implicated in tigecycline resistance in K. pneumoniae. The third strain showed a mutation located at the vertex of a very well conserved loop in the S10 ribosomal protein, which is located in close proximity to the tigecycline target site in the 30S ribosomal subunit. This mutation was previously shown to be associated with tetracycline resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. A PCR-based approach was devised to amplify the potential resistance mechanisms identified by genomics and applied to two additional ST512 strains showing resistance to tigecycline, allowing us to identify mutations in the ramR gene.
A screening for non-target mutations affecting fluoroquinolone susceptibility was conducted in epidemic multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serovar Kentucky ST198. Among a panel of representative isolates (n = 27), covering the epidemic, only three showed distinct mutations in ramR resulting in enhanced expression of genes encoding the AcrAB-TolC efflux system and low increase in ciprofloxacin MIC. No mutations were detected in other regulatory regions of this efflux system. Ciprofloxacin resistance in serovar Kentucky ST198 is thus currently mainly due to multiple target gene mutations.
Salmonella; ciprofloxacin resistance; efflux pump; regulation; ram