Putrescine Reduces Antibiotic-Induced Oxidative Stress as a Mechanism of Modulation of Antibiotic Resistance in Burkholderia cenocepacia

Omar M. El-Halfawy, Miguel A. Valvano

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Abstract

Communication of antibiotic resistance among bacteria via small molecules is implicated in transient reduction of bacterial susceptibility to antibiotics, which could lead to therapeutic failures aggravating the problem of antibiotic resistance. Released putrescine from the extremely antibiotic resistant bacterium Burkholderia cenocepacia protects less resistant cells from different species against the antimicrobial peptide polymyxin B (PmB). Exposure of B. cenocepacia to sub-lethal concentrations of PmB and other bactericidal antibiotics induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and expression of the oxidative stress response regulator OxyR. We evaluated whether putrescine alleviates antibiotic-induced oxidative stress. The accumulation of intracellular ROS such as superoxide ion and hydrogen peroxide was assessed fluorometrically with dichlorofluorescein diacetate, while the expression of OxyR and putrescine synthesis enzymes was determined in luciferase assays using chromosomal promoter-lux reporter system fusions. We evaluated wild type and isogenic deletion mutant strains with defects in putrescine biosynthesis after exposure to sub-lethal concentrations of PmB and other bactericidal antibiotics. Exogenous putrescine protected against oxidative stress induced by PmB and other antibiotics, whereas reduced putrescine synthesis resulted in increased ROS generation, and a parallel increased sensitivity to PmB. Of the 3 B. cenocepacia putrescine synthesizing enzymes, PmB induced only BCAL2641, an ornithine decarboxylase. This study exposes BCAL2641 as a critical component of the putrescine-mediated communication of antibiotic resistance, and as a plausible target for designing inhibitors that would block the communication of such resistance among different bacteria, ultimately reducing the window of therapeutic failure in treating bacterial infections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4162-4171
Number of pages10
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Volume58
Issue number7
Early online date12 May 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

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