Epistasis analysis uncovers hidden antibiotic resistance-associated fitness costs hampering the evolution of MRSA.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Fitness costs imposed on bacteria by antibiotic resistance mechanisms are believed to hamper their dissemination. The scale of these costs is highly variable. Some, including resistance of Staphylococcus aureus to the clinically important antibiotic mupirocin, have been reported as being cost-free, which suggests that there are few barriers preventing their global spread. However, this is not supported by surveillance data in healthy communities, which indicate that this resistance mechanism is relatively unsuccessful. RESULTS:Epistasis analysis on two collections of MRSA provides an explanation for this discord, where the mupirocin resistance-conferring mutation of the ileS gene appears to affect the levels of toxins produced by S. aureus when combined with specific polymorphisms at other loci. Proteomic analysis demonstrates that the activity of the secretory apparatus of the PSM family of toxins is affected by mupirocin resistance. As an energetically costly activity, this reduction in toxicity masks the fitness costs associated with this resistance mutation, a cost that becomes apparent when toxin production becomes necessary. This hidden fitness cost provides a likely explanation for why this mupirocin-resistance mechanism is not more prevalent, given the widespread use of this antibiotic. CONCLUSIONS:With dwindling pools of antibiotics available for use, information on the fitness consequences of the acquisition of resistance may need to be considered when designing antibiotic prescribing policies. However, this study suggests there are levels of depth that we do not understand, and that holistic, surveillance and functional genomics approaches are required to gain this crucial information.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas systems provide adaptive immunity against mobile genetic elements, but employment of this resistance mechanism is often reported with a fitness cost for the host. Whether or not CRISPR-Cas systems are important barriers for the horizontal spread of conjugative plasmids, which play a crucial role in the spread of antibiotic resistance, will depend on the fitness costs of employing CRISPR-based defences and the benefits of resisting conjugative plasmids. To estimate these costs and benefits we measured bacterial fitness associated with plasmid immunity using Escherichia coli and the conjugative plasmid pOX38-Cm. We find that CRISPR-mediated immunity fails to confer a fitness benefit in the absence of antibiotics, despite the large fitness cost associated with carrying the plasmid in this context. Similar to many other conjugative plasmids, pOX38-Cm carries a CcdAB toxin-antitoxin (TA) addiction system. These addiction systems encode long-lived toxins and short-lived anti-toxins, resulting in toxic effects following the loss of the TA genes from the bacterial host. Our data suggest that the lack of a fitness benefit associated with CRISPR-mediated defence is due to expression of the TA system before plasmid detection and degradation. As most antibiotic resistance plasmids encode TA systems this could have important consequences for the role of CRISPR-Cas systems in limiting the spread of antibiotic resistance.
Project description:Chromosomal resistance to mupirocin in clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus arises from V(588)F or V(631)F mutations in isoleucyl-tRNA synthetase (IRS). Whether these are the only IRS mutations that confer mupirocin resistance or simply those that survive in the clinic is unknown. Mupirocin-resistant mutants of S. aureus 8325-4 were therefore generated to examine their ileS genotypes and the in vitro and in vivo fitness costs associated with them before and after compensatory evolution. Most spontaneous first-step mupirocin-resistant mutants carried V(588)F or V(631)F mutations in IRS, but a new mutation (G(593)V) was also identified. Second-step mutants carried combinations of previously identified IRS mutations (e.g., V(588)F/V(631)F and G(593)V/V(631)F), but additional combinations also occurred involving novel mutations (R(816)C, H(67)Q, and F(563)L). First-step mupirocin-resistant mutants were not associated with substantial fitness costs, a finding that is consistent with the occurrence of V(588)F or V(631)F mutations in the IRS of clinical strains. Second-step mutants were unfit, but fitness could be restored by subculture in the absence of mupirocin. In most cases, this was the result of compensatory mutations that also suppressed mupirocin resistance (e.g., A(196)V, E(190)K, and E(195)K), despite retention of the original mutations conferring resistance. Structural explanations for mupirocin resistance and loss of fitness were obtained by molecular modeling of mutated IRS enzymes, which provided data on mupirocin binding and interaction with the isoleucyl-AMP reactive intermediate.
Project description:Antibiotic and pesticide resistance of pathogens are major and pressing worldwide issues. Resistance evolution is often considered in simplified ecological contexts: treated versus nontreated environments. In contrast, antibiotic usually present important dose gradients: from ecosystems to hospitals to polluted soils, in treated patients across tissues. However, we do not know whether adaptation to low or high doses involves different phenotypic traits, and whether these traits trade-off with each other. In this study, we investigated the occurrence of such fitness trade-offs along a dose gradient by evolving experimentally resistant lines of Escherichia coli at different antibiotic concentrations for ?400 generations. Our results reveal fast evolution toward specialization following the first mutational step toward resistance, along with pervasive trade-offs among different evolution doses. We found clear and regular fitness patterns of specialization, which converged rapidly from different initial starting points. These findings are consistent with a simple fitness peak shift model as described by the classical evolutionary ecology theory of adaptation across environmental gradients. We also found that the fitness costs of resistance tend to be compensated through time at low doses whereas they increase through time at higher doses. This cost evolution follows a linear trend with the log-dose of antibiotic along the gradient. These results suggest a general explanation for the variability of the fitness costs of resistance and their evolution. Overall, these findings call for more realistic models of resistance management incorporating dose-specialization.
Project description:Antibiotic resistance is increasing in pathogenic microbial populations and is thus a major threat to public health. The fate of a resistance mutation in pathogen populations is determined in part by its fitness. Mutations that suffer little or no fitness cost are more likely to persist in the absence of antibiotic treatment. In this review, we performed a meta-analysis to investigate the fitness costs associated with single mutational events that confer resistance. Generally, these mutations were costly, although several drug classes and species of bacteria on average did not show a cost. Further investigations into the rate and fitness values of compensatory mutations that alleviate the costs of resistance will help us to better understand both the emergence and management of antibiotic resistance in clinical settings.
Project description:Fitness costs play a key role in the evolutionary dynamics of antibiotic resistance in bacteria by generating selection against resistance in the absence of antibiotics. Although the genetic basis of antibiotic resistance is well understood, the precise molecular mechanisms linking the genetic basis of resistance to its fitness cost remain poorly characterized. Here, we examine how the system-wide impacts of mutations in the RNA polymerase (RNAP) gene rpoB shape the fitness cost of rifampin resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Rifampin resistance mutations reduce transcriptional efficiency, and this explains 76% of the variation in fitness among rpoB mutants. The pleiotropic consequence of rpoB mutations is that mutants show altered relative transcript levels of essential genes. We find no evidence that global transcriptional responses have an impact on the fitness cost of rifampin resistance as revealed by transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq). Global changes in the transcriptional profiles of rpoB mutants compared to the transcriptional profile of the rifampin-sensitive ancestral strain are subtle, demonstrating that the transcriptional regulatory network of P. aeruginosa is robust to the decreased transcriptional efficiency associated with rpoB mutations. On a smaller scale, we find that rifampin resistance mutations increase the expression of RNAP due to decreased termination at an attenuator upstream from rpoB, and we argue that this helps to minimize the cost of rifampin resistance by buffering against reduced RNAP activity. In summary, our study shows that it is possible to dissect the molecular mechanisms underpinning variation in the cost of rifampin resistance and highlights the importance of genome-wide buffering of relative transcript levels in providing robustness against resistance mutations.Antibiotic resistance mutations carry fitness costs. Relative to the characteristics of their antibiotic-sensitive ancestors, resistant mutants show reduced growth rates and competitive abilities. Fitness cost plays an important role in the evolution of antibiotic resistance in the absence of antibiotics; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying these fitness costs is not well understood. We applied a systems-level approach to dissect the molecular underpinnings of the fitness costs associated with rifampin resistance in P. aeruginosa and showed that most of the variation in fitness cost can be explained by the direct effect of resistance mutations on the enzymatic activity of the mutated gene. Pleiotropic changes in transcriptional profiles are subtle at a genome-wide scale, suggesting that the gene regulatory network of P. aeruginosa is robust in the face of the direct effects of resistance mutations.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>Staphylococcus aureus is a human commensal that at times turns into a serious bacterial pathogen causing life-threatening infections. For the delicate control of virulence, S. aureus employs the agr quorum-sensing system that, via the intracellular effector molecule RNAIII, regulates virulence gene expression. We demonstrate that the presence of the agr locus imposes a fitness cost on S. aureus that is mediated by the expression of RNAIII. Further, we show that exposure to sublethal levels of the antibiotics ciprofloxacin, mupirocin, and rifampin, each targeting separate cellular functions, markedly increases the agr-mediated fitness cost by inducing the expression of RNAIII. Thus, the extensive use of antibiotics in hospitals may explain why agr-negative variants are frequently isolated from hospital-acquired S. aureus infections but rarely found among community-acquired S. aureus strains. Importantly, agr deficiency correlates with increased duration of and mortality due to bacteremia during antibiotic treatment and with a higher frequency of glycopeptide resistance than in agr-carrying strains. Our results provide an explanation for the frequent isolation of agr-defective strains from hospital-acquired S. aureus infections and suggest that the adaptability of S. aureus to antibiotics involves the agr locus.<h4>Importance</h4>Staphylococcus aureus is the most frequently isolated pathogen in intensive care units and a common cause of nosocomial infections, resulting in a high degree of morbidity and mortality. Surprisingly, a large fraction (15 to 60%) of hospital-isolated S. aureus strains are agr defective and lack the main quorum-sensing-controlled virulence regulatory system. This is a problem, as agr-defective strains are associated with a mortality level in bacteremic infections and a probability of glycopeptide resistance greater than those of other strains. We show here that agr-negative strains have a fitness advantage over agr-positive strains in the presence of sublethal concentrations of some antibiotics and that the fitness defect of agr-positive cells is caused by antibiotic-mediated expression of the agr effector molecule RNAIII. These results offer an explanation of the frequent isolation of agr-defective S. aureus strains in hospitals and will influence how we treat S. aureus infections.
Project description:Evolved resistance to xenobiotics and parasites is often associated with fitness costs when the selection pressure is absent. Resistance to the widely used microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has evolved in several insect species through the modification of insect midgut binding sites for Bt toxins, and reports of costs associated with Bt resistance are common. Studies on the costs of Bt-resistance restrict the insect to a single artificial diet or host-plant. However, it is well documented that insects can self-select appropriate proportions of multiple nutritionally unbalanced foods to optimize life-history traits. Therefore, we examined whether Bt-resistant and susceptible cabbage loopers Trichoplusia ni differed in their nutrient intake and fitness costs when they were allowed to compose their own protein:carbohydrate diet. We found that Bt-resistant T. ni composed a higher ratio of protein to carbohydrate than susceptible T. ni. Bt-resistant males exhibited no fitness cost, while the fitness cost (reduced pupal weight) was present in resistant females. The absence of the fitness cost in resistant males was associated with increased carbohydrate consumption compared to females. We demonstrate a sex difference in a fitness cost and a new behavioural outcome associated with Bt resistance.
Project description:Antibiotic resistance evolves rapidly in response to drug selection, but it can also persist at appreciable levels even after the removal of the antibiotic. This suggests that many resistant strains can both be resistant and have high fitness in the absence of antibiotics. To explore the conditions under which high-fitness, resistant strains evolve and the genetic changes responsible, we used a combination of experimental evolution and whole-genome sequencing to track the acquisition of ciprofloxacin resistance in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa under conditions of constant and fluctuating antibiotic delivery patterns. We found that high-fitness, resistant strains evolved readily under fluctuating but not constant antibiotic conditions and that their evolution was underlain by a trade-off between resistance and fitness. Whole-genome sequencing of evolved isolates revealed that resistance was gained through mutations in known resistance genes and that second-site mutations generally compensated for costs associated with resistance in the fluctuating treatment, leading to the evolution of cost-free resistance. Our results suggest that current therapies involving intermittent administration of antibiotics are contributing to the maintenance of antibiotic resistance at high levels in clinical settings. IMPORTANCE Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that greatly impacts human health. How resistance persists, even in the absence of antibiotic treatment, is thus a public health problem of utmost importance. In this study, we explored the antibiotic treatment conditions under which cost-free resistance arises, using experimental evolution of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the quinolone antibiotic ciprofloxacin. We found that intermittent antibiotic treatment led to the evolution of cost-free resistance and demonstrate that compensatory evolution is the mechanism responsible for cost-free resistance. Our results suggest that discontinuous administration of antibiotic may be contributing to the high levels of antibiotic resistance currently found worldwide.
Project description:Antibiotic resistance typically induces a fitness cost that shapes the fate of antibiotic-resistant bacterial populations. However, the cost of resistance can be mitigated by compensatory mutations elsewhere in the genome, and therefore the loss of resistance may proceed too slowly to be of practical importance. We present our study on the efficacy and phenotypic impact of compensatory evolution in Escherichia coli strains carrying multiple resistance mutations. We have demonstrated that drug-resistance frequently declines within 480 generations during exposure to an antibiotic-free environment. The extent of resistance loss was found to be generally antibiotic-specific, driven by mutations that reduce both resistance level and fitness costs of antibiotic-resistance mutations. We conclude that phenotypic reversion to the antibiotic-sensitive state can be mediated by the acquisition of additional mutations, while maintaining the original resistance mutations. Our study indicates that restricting antimicrobial usage could be a useful policy, but for certain antibiotics only.
Project description:Several studies over the last few decades have shown that antibiotic resistance mechanisms frequently confer a fitness cost and that these costs can be genetically ameliorated by intra- or extragenic second-site mutations, often without loss of resistance. Another, much less studied potential mechanism by which the fitness cost of antibiotic resistance could be reduced is via a regulatory response where the deleterious effect of the resistance mechanism is lowered by a physiological alteration that buffers the mutational effect. In mycobacteria, resistance to the clinically used tuberactinomycin antibiotic capreomycin involves loss-of-function mutations in rRNA methylase TlyA or point mutations in 16S rRNA (in particular the A1408G mutation). Both of these alterations result in resistance by reducing drug binding to the ribosome. Here we show that alterations of tlyA gene expression affect both antibiotic drug susceptibility and fitness cost of drug resistance. In particular, we demonstrate that the common resistance mutation A1408G is accompanied by a physiological change that involves increased expression of the tlyA gene. This gene encodes an enzyme that methylates neighboring 16S rRNA position C1409, and as a result of increased TlyA expression the fitness cost of the A1408G mutation is significantly reduced. Our findings suggest that in mycobacteria, a nonmutational mechanism (i.e., gene regulatory) can restore fitness to genetically resistant bacteria. Our results also point to a new and clinically relevant treatment strategy to combat evolution of resistance in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Thus, by utilizing antagonistic antibiotic interactions, resistance evolution could be reduced.