Effect of frameshift mutagen acriflavine on control of resistance genes in Acinetobacter baumannii

B. S. Lopes, A. Hamouda, J. Findlay, S. G. B. Amyes

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Abstract

Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative pathogenic bacterium that often exhibits a multidrug-resistant phenotype causing infections at various sites of the body and increasingly leading to septicaemic shock. This study evaluated the role of acriflavine, a frameshift mutagen, on the movement of insertion sequence ISAba1 in clinical isolates of A. baumannii, with the focus on changes in expression levels of the bl(aADc) and bla(OXA-51-like) genes. Resistance profiles were assessed with consideration of ISAba1 acting as a promoter upstream of the bla(ADC) or bla(OXA-51-like) gene. ISAba1 movement was observed in the acriflavine mutants Ab153M and Ab1225M. Ab153M exhibited an increase in the MIC values of carbapenems and ceftazidime, with ISAba1 gained upstream of the bla(ADC) and bla(OXA-51-like) genes, correlating with an increase in gene expression. Reduced expression of the 17, 23 and 25 kDa outer-membrane proteins (OMPs) was also observed in Ab153M. There was a significant decrease in MIC values of carbapenems with the loss of ISAba1 upstream of the bla(ADC) and bla(OXA-51-like) genes in strain Ab1225M, and a significant decrease in bla(OXA-51-iike) gene expression and, to a lesser extent, in bla(ADC) expression. Ab1225M and a serially subcultured Ab1225 strain (Ab1225s) exhibited overexpression of the 17, 23, 25 and 27 kDa OMPs. There was a decrease in MIC values of the carbapenems and piperacillin/tazobactam but not of ceftazidime in Ab1225s, which had ISAba1 upstream of the bla(ADC) and bla(OXA-51-like) genes. A significant decrease in bla(OXA-51-like) expression was observed in Ab1225s, whereas the expression of bla(ADC) was similar to that in the Ab1225 parental strain. The attenuation in this strain may be due to overexpression of OMPs and it is clear that, even if ISAba1 is present upstream of an antibiotic resistance gene, it may not necessarily contribute towards the overexpression of antibiotic resistance genes (bla(OXA-51-like) in Ab1225s). Movement of the IS element within the A. baumannii chromosome may be an important regulatory mechanism employed by the bacterium under particular stress conditions, and the ability to upregulate the expression of antibiotic resistance genes is likely to be an important factor in the pathogenicity of this bacterium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-215
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

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