Analysis of the Oxidative Stress Regulon Identifies soxS as a Genetic Target for Resistance Reversal in Multidrug-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae

João Anes, Katherine Dever, Athmanya Eshwar, Scott Nguyen, Yu Cao, Sathesh K Sivasankaran, Sandra Sakalauskaitė, Angelika Lehner, Stéphanie Devineau, Rimantas Daugelavičius, Roger Stephan, Séamus Fanning, Shabarinath Srikumar

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Abstract

In bacteria, the defense system deployed to counter oxidative stress is orchestrated by three transcriptional factors, SoxS, SoxR, and OxyR. Although the regulon that these factors control is known in many bacteria, similar data are not available for Klebsiella pneumoniae. To address this data gap, oxidative stress was artificially induced in K. pneumoniae MGH78578 using paraquat and the corresponding oxidative stress regulon recorded using transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq). The soxS gene was significantly induced during oxidative stress, and a knockout mutant was constructed to explore its functionality. The wild type and mutant were grown in the presence of paraquat and subjected to RNA-seq to elucidate the soxS regulon in K. pneumoniae MGH78578. Genes that are commonly regulated both in the oxidative stress and soxS regulons were identified and denoted as the oxidative SoxS regulon; these included a group of genes specifically regulated by SoxS. Efflux pump-encoding genes and global regulators were identified as part of this regulon. Consequently, the isogenic soxS mutant was found to exhibit a reduction in the minimum bactericidal concentration against tetracycline compared to that of the wild type. Impaired efflux activity, allowing tetracycline to be accumulated in the cytoplasm to bactericidal levels, was further evaluated using a tetraphenylphosphonium (TPP+) accumulation assay. The soxS mutant was also susceptible to tetracycline in vivo in a zebrafish embryo model. We conclude that the soxS gene could be considered a genetic target against which an inhibitor could be developed and used in combinatorial therapy to combat infections associated with multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00867-21
Number of pages16
JournalmBio
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 08 Jun 2021

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