The ins and outs of RND efflux pumps in Escherichia coli

João Anes, Matthew P. McCusker, Séamus Fanning, Marta Martins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Infectious diseases remain one of the principal causes of morbidity and mortality in the world. Relevant authorities including the WHO and CDC have expressed serious concern regarding the continued increase in the development of multidrug resistance among bacteria. They have also reaffirmed the urgent need for investment in the discovery and development of new antibiotics and therapeutic approaches to treat multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria. The extensive use of antimicrobial compounds in diverse environments, including farming and healthcare, has been identified as one of the main causes for the emergence of MDR bacteria. Induced selective pressure has led bacteria to develop new strategies of defense against these chemicals. Bacteria can accomplish this by several mechanisms, including enzymatic inactivation of the target compound; decreased cell permeability; target protection and/or overproduction; altered target site/enzyme and increased efflux due to over-expression of efflux pumps. Efflux pumps can be specific for a single substrate or can confer resistance to multiple antimicrobials by facilitating the extrusion of a broad range of compounds including antibiotics, heavy metals, biocides and others, from the bacterial cell. To overcome antimicrobial resistance caused by active efflux, efforts are required to better understand the fundamentals of drug efflux mechanisms. There is also a need to elucidate how these mechanisms are regulated and how they respond upon exposure to antimicrobials. Understanding these will allow the development of combined therapies using efflux inhibitors together with antibiotics to act on Gram-negative bacteria, such as the emerging globally disseminated MDR pathogen Escherichia coli ST131 (O25:H4). This review will summarize the current knowledge on resistance-nodulation-cell division efflux mechanisms in E. coli, a bacteria responsible for community and hospital-acquired infections, as well as foodborne outbreaks worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number587
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Anes, McCusker, Fanning and Martins.


  • Antibiotics
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Biocides
  • Escherichia coli efflux pumps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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