Lack of AcrB Efflux Function Confers Loss of Virulence on Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium.
ABSTRACT: AcrAB-TolC is the paradigm resistance-nodulation-division (RND) multidrug resistance efflux system in Gram-negative bacteria, with AcrB being the pump protein in this complex. We constructed a nonfunctional AcrB mutant by replacing D408, a highly conserved residue essential for proton translocation. Western blotting confirmed that the AcrB D408A mutant had the same native level of expression of AcrB as the parental strain. The mutant had no growth deficiencies in rich or minimal medium. However, compared with wild-type SL1344, the mutant had increased accumulation of Hoechst 33342 dye and decreased efflux of ethidium bromide and was multidrug hypersusceptible. The D408A mutant was attenuated in vivo in mouse and Galleria mellonella models and showed significantly reduced invasion into intestinal epithelial cells and macrophages in vitro A dose-dependent inhibition of invasion was also observed when two different efflux pump inhibitors were added to the wild-type strain during infection of epithelial cells. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) revealed downregulation of bacterial factors necessary for infection, including those in the Salmonella pathogenicity islands 1, 2, and 4; quorum sensing genes; and phoPQ Several general stress response genes were upregulated, probably due to retention of noxious molecules inside the bacterium. Unlike loss of AcrB protein, loss of efflux function did not induce overexpression of other RND efflux pumps. Our data suggest that gene deletion mutants are unsuitable for studying membrane transporters and, importantly, that inhibitors of AcrB efflux function will not induce expression of other RND pumps.IMPORTANCE Antibiotic resistance is a major public health concern. In Gram-negative bacteria, overexpression of the AcrAB-TolC multidrug efflux system confers resistance to clinically useful drugs. Here, we show that loss of AcrB efflux function causes loss of virulence in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. This is due to the reduction of bacterial factors necessary for infection, which is likely to be caused by the retention of noxious molecules inside the bacterium. We also show that, in contrast to loss of AcrB protein, loss of efflux does not induce overexpression of other efflux pumps from the same family. This indicates that there are differences between loss of efflux protein and loss of efflux that make gene deletion mutants unsuitable for studying the biological function of membrane transporters. Understanding the biological role of AcrB will help to assess the risks of targeting efflux pumps as a strategy to combat antibiotic resistance.
Project description:Efflux is an important mechanism in Gram-negative bacteria conferring multidrug resistance. Inhibition of efflux is an encouraging strategy to restore the antibacterial activity of antibiotics. Chlorpromazine and amitriptyline have been shown to behave as efflux inhibitors. However, their mode of action is poorly understood. Exposure of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Escherichia coli to chlorpromazine selected for mutations within genes encoding RamR and MarR, regulators of the multidrug tripartite efflux pump AcrAB-TolC. Further experiments with S. Typhimurium containing AcrB D408A (a nonfunctional efflux pump) and chlorpromazine or amitriptyline resulted in the reversion of the mutant acrB allele to the wild type. Together, this suggests these drugs are AcrB efflux substrates. Subsequent docking studies with AcrB from S. Typhimurium and E. coli, followed by molecular dynamics simulations and free energy calculations showed that chlorpromazine and amitriptyline bind at the hydrophobic trap, a preferred binding site for substrates and inhibitors within the distal binding pocket of AcrB. Based on these simulations, we suggest that chlorpromazine and amitriptyline inhibit AcrB-mediated efflux by interfering with substrate binding. Our findings provide evidence that these drugs are substrates and inhibitors of AcrB, yielding molecular details of their mechanism of action and informing drug discovery of new efflux inhibitors.IMPORTANCE Efflux pumps of the resistance nodulation-cell division (RND) superfamily are major contributors to multidrug resistance for most of the Gram-negative ESKAPE (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species) pathogens. The development of inhibitors of these pumps would be highly desirable; however, several issues have thus far hindered all efforts at designing new efflux inhibitory compounds devoid of adverse effects. An alternative route to de novo design relies on the use of marketed drugs, for which side effects on human health have been already assessed. In this work, we provide experimental evidence that the antipsychotic drugs chlorpromazine and amitriptyline are inhibitors of the AcrB transporter, the engine of the major RND efflux pumps in Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Furthermore, in silico calculations have provided a molecular-level picture of the inhibition mechanism, allowing rationalization of experimental data and paving the way for similar studies with other classes of marketed compounds.
Project description:The Escherichia coli AcrAB-TolC efflux pump is the archetype of the resistance nodulation cell division (RND) exporters from Gram-negative bacteria. Overexpression of RND-type efflux pumps is a major factor in multidrug resistance (MDR), which makes these pumps important antibacterial drug discovery targets. We have recently developed novel pyranopyridine-based inhibitors of AcrB, which are orders of magnitude more powerful than the previously known inhibitors. However, further development of such inhibitors has been hindered by the lack of structural information for rational drug design. Although only the soluble, periplasmic part of AcrB binds and exports the ligands, the presence of the membrane-embedded domain in AcrB and its polyspecific binding behavior have made cocrystallization with drugs challenging. To overcome this obstacle, we have engineered and produced a soluble version of AcrB [AcrB periplasmic domain (AcrBper)], which is highly congruent in structure with the periplasmic part of the full-length protein, and is capable of binding substrates and potent inhibitors. Here, we describe the molecular basis for pyranopyridine-based inhibition of AcrB using a combination of cellular, X-ray crystallographic, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations studies. The pyranopyridines bind within a phenylalanine-rich cage that branches from the deep binding pocket of AcrB, where they form extensive hydrophobic interactions. Moreover, the increasing potency of improved inhibitors correlates with the formation of a delicate protein- and water-mediated hydrogen bond network. These detailed insights provide a molecular platform for the development of novel combinational therapies using efflux pump inhibitors for combating multidrug resistant Gram-negative pathogens.
Project description:Multidrug efflux pumps actively expel a wide range of toxic substrates from the cell and play a major role in intrinsic and acquired drug resistance. In Gram-negative bacteria, these pumps form tripartite assemblies that span the cell envelope. However, the in situ structure and assembly mechanism of multidrug efflux pumps remain unknown. Here we report the in situ structure of the Escherichia coli AcrAB-TolC multidrug efflux pump obtained by electron cryo-tomography and subtomogram averaging. The fully assembled efflux pump is observed in a closed state under conditions of antibiotic challenge and in an open state in the presence of AcrB inhibitor. We also observe intermediate AcrAB complexes without TolC and discover that AcrA contacts the peptidoglycan layer of the periplasm. Our data point to a sequential assembly process in living bacteria, beginning with formation of the AcrAB subcomplex and suggest domains to target with efflux pump inhibitors.
Project description: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.
Project description:The AcrAB-TolC system in Escherichia coli is an intrinsic RND-type multidrug efflux transporter that functions as a tripartite complex of the inner membrane transporter AcrB, the outer membrane channel TolC, and the adaptor protein AcrA. Although the crystal structures of each component of this system have been elucidated, the crystal structure of the whole complex has not been solved. The available crystal structures have shown that AcrB and TolC function as trimers, but the number of AcrA molecules in the complex is now under debate. Disulfide chemical cross-linking experiments have indicated that the stoichiometry of AcrB-AcrA-TolC is 1:1:1; on the other hand, recent cryo-electron microscopy images of AcrAB-TolC suggested a 1:2:1 stoichiometry. In this study, we constructed 1:1-fixed AcrB-AcrA fusion proteins using various linkers. Surprisingly, all the 1:1-fixed linker proteins showed drug export activity under both acrAB-deficient conditions and acrAB acrEF double-pump-knockout conditions regardless of the lengths of the linkers. Finally, we optimized a shorter linker lacking the conformational freedom imparted by the AcrB C terminus. These results suggest that a complex with equal amounts of AcrA and AcrB is sufficient for drug export function.The structure and stoichiometry of the RND-type multidrug exporter AcrB-AcrA-TolC complex are still under debate. Recently, electron microscopic images of the AcrB-AcrA-TolC complex have been reported, suggesting a 1:2:1 stoichiometry. However, we report here that the AcrB-AcrA 1:1 fusion protein is active for drug export under acrAB-deficient conditions and also under acrAB acrEF double-deficient conditions, which eliminate the aid of free AcrA and its close homolog AcrE, indicating that the AcrB-AcrA 1:1 stoichiometry is enough for drug export function. In addition, the AcrB-AcrA fusion protein can function without the aid of free AcrA. We believe that these results are very important for considering the structure and mechanism of AcrAB-TolC-mediated multidrug export.
Project description:Erwinia amylovora causes fire blight on several plant species such as apple and pear, which produce diverse phytoalexins as defence mechanisms. An evolutionary successful pathogen thus must develop resistance mechanisms towards these toxic compounds. The E. amylovora outer membrane protein, TolC, might mediate phytoalexin resistance through its interaction with the multidrug efflux pump, AcrAB. To prove this, a tolC mutant and an acrB/tolC double mutant were constructed. The minimal inhibitory concentrations of diverse antimicrobials and phytoalexins were determined for these mutants and compared with that of a previously generated acrB mutant. The tolC and arcB/tolC mutants were considerably more susceptible than the wild type but showed similar levels as the acrB mutant. The results clearly indicated that neither TolC nor AcrAB significantly interacted with other transport systems during the efflux of the tested toxic compounds. Survival and virulence assays on inoculated apple plants showed that pathogenicity and the ability of E. amylovora to colonize plant tissue were equally impaired by mutations of tolC and acrB/tolC. Our results allowed the conclusion that TolC plays an important role as a virulence and fitness factor of E. amylovora by mediating resistance towards phytoalexins through its exclusive interaction with AcrAB.
Project description:Cell-cell interactions play an important role in bacterial antibiotic resistance. Here, we asked whether neighbor proximity is sufficient to generate single-cell variation in antibiotic resistance due to local differences in antibiotic concentrations. To test this, we focused on multidrug efflux pumps because recent studies have revealed that expression of pumps is heterogeneous across populations. Efflux pumps can export antibiotics, leading to elevated resistance relative to cells with low or no pump expression. In this study, we co-cultured cells with and without AcrAB-TolC pump expression and used single-cell time-lapse microscopy to quantify growth rate as a function of a cell's neighbors. In inhibitory concentrations of chloramphenicol, we found that cells lacking functional efflux pumps (?acrB) grow more slowly when they are surrounded by cells with AcrAB-TolC pumps than when surrounded by ?acrB cells. To help explain our experimental results, we developed an agent-based mathematical model, which demonstrates the impact of neighbors based on efflux efficiency. Our findings hold true for co-cultures of Escherichia coli with and without pump expression and also in co-cultures of E. coli and Salmonella typhumirium. These results show how drug export and local microenvironments play a key role in defining single-cell level antibiotic resistance.
Project description:Multidrug efflux pumps adversely affect both the clinical effectiveness of existing antibiotics and the discovery process to find new ones. In this study, we reconstituted and characterized by surface plasmon resonance the assembly of AcrAB-TolC, the archetypal multidrug efflux pump from Escherichia coli. We report that the periplasmic AcrA and the outer membrane channel TolC assemble high-affinity complexes with AcrB transporter independently from each other. Antibiotic novobiocin and MC-207,110 inhibitor bind to the immobilized AcrB but do not affect interactions between components of the complex. In contrast, DARPin inhibits interactions between AcrA and AcrB. Mutational opening of TolC channel decreases stability of interactions and promotes disassembly of the complex. The conformation of the membrane proximal domain of AcrA is critical for the formation of AcrAB-TolC and could be targeted for the development of new inhibitors.
Project description:The global emergence of multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria is a growing threat to antibiotic therapy. The chromosomally encoded drug efflux mechanisms that are ubiquitous in these bacteria greatly contribute to antibiotic resistance and present a major challenge for antibiotic development. Multidrug pumps, particularly those represented by the clinically relevant AcrAB-TolC and Mex pumps of the resistance-nodulation-division (RND) superfamily, not only mediate intrinsic and acquired multidrug resistance (MDR) but also are involved in other functions, including the bacterial stress response and pathogenicity. Additionally, efflux pumps interact synergistically with other resistance mechanisms (e.g., with the outer membrane permeability barrier) to increase resistance levels. Since the discovery of RND pumps in the early 1990s, remarkable scientific and technological advances have allowed for an in-depth understanding of the structural and biochemical basis, substrate profiles, molecular regulation, and inhibition of MDR pumps. However, the development of clinically useful efflux pump inhibitors and/or new antibiotics that can bypass pump effects continues to be a challenge. Plasmid-borne efflux pump genes (including those for RND pumps) have increasingly been identified. This article highlights the recent progress obtained for organisms of clinical significance, together with methodological considerations for the characterization of MDR pumps.
Project description:Enterobacter cloacae is an emerging clinical pathogen that may be responsible for nosocomial infections. Management of these infections is often difficult, owing to the high frequency of strains that are resistant to disinfectants and antimicrobial agents in the clinical setting. Multidrug efflux pumps, especially those belonging to the resistance-nodulation-division family, play a major role as a mechanism of antimicrobial resistance in gram-negative pathogens. In the present study, we cloned and sequenced the genes encoding an AcrAcB-TolC-like efflux pump from an E. cloacae clinical isolate (isolate EcDC64) showing a broad antibiotic resistance profile. Sequence analysis showed that the acrR, acrA, acrB, and tolC genes encode proteins that display 79.8%, 84%, 88%, and 82% amino acid identities with the respective homologues of Enterobacter aerogenes and are arranged in a similar pattern. Deletion of the acrA gene to yield an AcrA-deficient EcDC64 mutant (EcDeltaacrA) showed the involvement of AcrAB-TolC in multidrug resistance in E. cloacae. However, experiments with an efflux pump inhibitor suggested that additional efflux systems also play a role in antibiotic resistance. Investigation of several unrelated isolates of E. cloacae by PCR analysis revealed that the AcrAB system is apparently ubiquitous in this species.