Subfunctionalization influences the expansion of bacterial multidrug antibiotic resistance

Elena Perrin, Marco Fondi, Emanuele Bosi, Alessio Mengoni, Silvia Buroni, Viola Camila Scoffone, Miguel A. Valvano, Renato Fani

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Antibiotic resistance is a major problem for human health. Multidrug resistance efflux pumps, especially those of the Resistance-Nodulation-Cell Division (RND) family, are major contributors to high-level antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. Most bacterial genomes contain several copies of the different classes of multidrug resistance efflux pumps. Gene duplication and gain of function by the duplicate copies of multidrug resistance efflux pump genes plays a key role in the expansion and diversification of drug-resistance mechanisms.
Results: We used two members of the Burkholderia RND superfamily as models to understand how duplication events affect the antibiotic resistance of these strains. First, we analyzed the conservation and distribution of these two RND systems and their regulators across the Burkholderia genus. Through genetic manipulations, we identified both the exact substrate range of these transporters and their eventual interchangeability. We also performed a directed evolution experiment, combined with next generation sequencing, to evaluate the role of antibiotics in the activation of the expression of these systems. Together, our results indicate that the first step to diversify the functions of these pumps arises from changes in their regulation (subfunctionalization) instead of functional mutations. Further, these pumps could rewire their regulation to respond to antibiotics, thus maintaining high genomic plasticity.
Conclusions: Studying the regulatory network that controls the expression of the RND pumps will help understand and eventually control the development and expansion of drug resistance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number834
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2017


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