The β-lactam antibiotic temocillin (6-α-methoxy-ticarcillin) shows stability to most extended spectrum β-lactamases, but is considered inactive against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Mutations in the MexAB-OprM efflux system, naturally occurring in cystic fibrosis (CF) isolates, have been previously shown to reverse this intrinsic resistance. In the present study, we measured temocillin activity in a large collection (n = 333) of P. aeruginosa CF isolates. 29% of the isolates had MICs ≤ 16 mg/L (proposed clinical breakpoint for temocillin). Mutations were observed in mexA or mexB in isolates for which temocillin MIC was ≤512 mg/L (nucleotide insertions or deletions, premature termination, tandem repeat, nonstop, and missense mutations). A correlation was observed between temocillin MICs and efflux rate of N-phenyl-1-naphthylamine (MexAB-OprM fluorescent substrate) and extracellular exopolysaccharide abundance (contributing to a mucoid phenotype). OpdK or OpdF anion-specific porins expression decreased temocillin MIC by ∼1 two-fold dilution only. Contrarily to the common assumption that temocillin is inactive on P. aeruginosa, we show here clinically-exploitable MICs on a non-negligible proportion of CF isolates, explained by a wide diversity of mutations in mexA and/or mexB. In a broader context, this work contributes to increase our understanding of MexAB-OprM functionality and help delineating how antibiotics interact with MexA and MexB.
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