Functionally distinct mutations within AcrB underpin antibiotic resistance in different lifestyles

Eleftheria Trampari, Filippo Prischi, Attilio V. Vargiu, Justin Abi-Assaf, Vassiliy N. Bavro, Mark A. Webber

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Antibiotic resistance is a pressing healthcare challenge and is mediated by various mechanisms, including the active export of drugs via multidrug efflux systems, which prevent drug accumulation within the cell. Here, we studied how Salmonella evolved resistance to two key antibiotics, cefotaxime and azithromycin, when grown planktonically or as a biofilm. Resistance to both drugs emerged in both conditions and was associated with different substitutions within the efflux-associated transporter, AcrB. Azithromycin exposure selected for an R717L substitution, while cefotaxime for Q176K. Additional mutations in ramR or envZ accumulated concurrently with the R717L or Q176K substitutions respectively, resulting in clinical resistance to the selective antibiotics and cross-resistance to other drugs. Structural, genetic, and phenotypic analysis showed the two AcrB substitutions confer their benefits in profoundly different ways. R717L reduces steric barriers associated with transit through the substrate channel 2 of AcrB. Q176K increases binding energy for cefotaxime, improving recognition in the distal binding pocket, resulting in increased efflux efficiency. Finally, we show the R717 substitution is present in isolates recovered around the world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Journalnpj Antimicrobials and Resistance
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2023

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