Characterizing Aztreonam Resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa through Artificial Selection and Whole Genome Sequencing
McLean, Kathryn Ann
MetadataShow full item record
While much attention has been focused on acquired antibiotic resistance genes, chromosomal mutations may be most important in chronic infections where isolated, persistently infecting lineages experience repeated antibiotic exposure. Here, we used experimental evolution and whole genome sequencing to investigate chromosomally-encoded mutations causing aztreonam resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and characterized the secondary consequences of resistance development. We identified 19 recurrently mutated genes associated with aztreonam resistance. The most frequently observed mutations affected negative transcriptional regulators of the mexAB-oprM efflux system and the target of aztreonam, ftsI. While individual mutations conferred modest resistance gains, high-level resistance (1024 µg/mL) was achieved through the accumulation of multiple variants. Despite being largely stable when passaged in the absence of antibiotics, aztreonam resistance was associated with slowed in vitro growth rates, indicating an associated fitness cost. In some instances, evolved aztreonam resistant strains exhibited increased resistance to structurally unrelated antipseudomonal antibiotics. Surprisingly, strains carrying evolved mutations which affected negative regulators of mexAB-oprM (mexR and nalD) demonstrated enhanced virulence in a murine pneumonia infection model. Mutations in these genes, and other genes we associated with aztreonam resistance, were common in P. aeruginosa isolates from chronically infected patients with cystic fibrosis. These findings illuminate mechanisms of P. aeruginosa aztreonam resistance, and raise the possibility that antibiotic treatment could inadvertently select for hyper-virulence phenotypes.
- Laboratory medicine