The major facilitator superfamily transporter MdtM contributes to intrinsic resistance of Escherichia coli to quaternary ammonium compounds

Scarlett Holdsworth, Christopher Law

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Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) are used extensively as biocides and their misuse may be contributing to the development of bacterial resistance. Although the major intrinsic resistance to QACs of Gram-negative bacteria is mediated by the action of tripartite multidrug transporters of the resistance-nodulation-division family, we aimed to test if the promiscuity of the recently characterized major facilitator superfamily multidrug transporter, MdtM, from Escherichia coli enabled it also to function in the efflux of QACs.
The ability of the major facilitator mdtM gene product, when overexpressed from multicopy plasmid, to protect E. coli cells from the toxic effects of a panel of seven QACs was determined using growth inhibition assays in liquid medium. Interaction between QACs and MdtM was studied by a combination of substrate binding assays using purified protein in detergent solution and transport assays using inverted vesicles.
E. coli cells that overproduced MdtM were less susceptible to the cytotoxic effects of each of the QACs tested compared with cells that did not overproduce the transporter. Purified MdtM bound each QAC with micromolar affinity and the protein utilized the electrochemical proton gradient to transport QACs across the cytoplasmic membrane. Furthermore, the results suggested a functional interaction between MdtM and the tripartite resistance-nodulation-division family AcrAB-TolC efflux system.
The results support a hitherto unidentified capacity for a single-component multidrug transporter of the major facilitator superfamily, MdtM, to function in the efflux of a broad range of QACs and thus contribute to the intrinsic resistance of E. coli to these compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-839
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number4
Early online date05 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

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