New insights into the regulatory pathways associated with the activation of the stringent response in bacterial resistance to the PBP2-targeted antibiotics, mecillinam and OP0595/RG6080

M. Doumith (Lead Author), S. Mushtaq, D.M. Livermore, N. Woodford

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Objectives: The diazabicyclooctane β-lactamase inhibitor OP0595 (RG6080) also acts as an antibiotic, targeting PBP2 in Enterobacteriaceae, but this activity is vulnerable to mutational resistance. We used WGS to investigate the basis of this resistance.

Methods: Twenty OP0595-selected mutants, comprising four derived from each of five different Escherichia coli strains, were sequenced on Illumina HiSeq. Reads from each mutant were mapped to the assembled genome of the corresponding parent. A variant-calling file generated with Samtools was parsed to determine genetic alterations.

Results: Besides OP0595, the mutants consistently showed decreased susceptibility to mecillinam, which likewise targets PBP2, and grew as stable round forms in the presence of subinhibitory concentrations of OP0595. Among the 20 mutants, 18 had alterations in genes encoding tRNA synthase and modification functions liable to induce expression of the RpoS sigma factor through activation of the stringent response or had mutations suppressing inactivators of RpoS or the stringent response signal-degrading enzyme, SpoT. TolB was inactivated in one mutant: this activates RcsBC regulation and was previously associated with mecillinam resistance. The mechanism of resistance remained unidentified in one mutant. Both the RpoS and RcsBC systems regulate genes of cell division, including ftsAQZ that can compensate for loss or inhibition of PBP2, allowing survival of the challenged bacteria as stable round forms, as seen.

Conclusions: WGS identified the global stringent response signal, entailing induction of RpoS, as the main mediator of mutational resistance to OP0595 in E. coli.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2810-2814
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number10
Early online date20 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Escherichia coli
  • resistance mechanisms
  • β-lactams
  • penicillin binding proteins

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