Metabolic compensation of fitness costs associated with overexpression of the multidrug efflux pump MexEF-OprN in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

JORGE ANDRES OLIVARES PACHECO, Carolina Álvarez-Ortega, José Luis Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

The acquisition of antibiotic resistance has been associated with a possible nonspecific, metabolic burden that is reflected in decreased fitness among resistant bacteria. We have recently demonstrated that overexpression of the MexEF-OprN multidrug efflux pump does not produce a metabolic burden when measured by classical competitions tests but rather leads to a number of changes in the organism's physiology. One of these changes is the untimely activation of the nitrate respiratory chain under aerobic conditions. MexEF-OprN is a proton/substrate antiporter. Overexpression of this element should result in a constant influx of protons, which may lead to cytoplasmic acidification. Acidification was not observed in aerobiosis, a situation in which the MexEF-overproducing mutant increases oxygen consumption. This enhanced oxygen uptake serves to eliminate intracellular proton accumulation, preventing the cytoplasmic acidification that was observed exclusively under anaerobic conditions, a situation in which the fitness of the MexEF-OprN-overproducing mutant decreases. Finally, we determined that the early activation of the nitrate respiratory chain under aerobic conditions plays a role in preventing a deleterious effect associated with the overexpression of MexEF-OprN. Our results show that metabolic rewiring may assist in overcoming the potential fitness cost associated with the acquisition of antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, the capability to metabolically compensate for this effect is habitat dependent, as demonstrated by our results under anaerobic conditions. The development of drugs that prevent metabolic compensation of fitness costs may help to reduce the persistence and dissemination of antibiotic resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3904-3913
Number of pages10
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Volume58
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014

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