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PLoS One. 2009 Nov 11;4(11):e6576. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006576.

Genome-scale identification method applied to find cryptic aminoglycoside resistance genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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  • 1Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA.



The ability of bacteria to rapidly evolve resistance to antibiotics is a critical public health problem. Resistance leads to increased disease severity and death rates, as well as imposes pressure towards the discovery and development of new antibiotic therapies. Improving understanding of the evolution and genetic basis of resistance is a fundamental goal in the field of microbiology.


We have applied a new genomic method, Scalar Analysis of Library Enrichments (SCALEs), to identify genomic regions that, given increased copy number, may lead to aminoglycoside resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa at the genome scale. We report the result of selections on highly representative genomic libraries for three different aminoglycoside antibiotics (amikacin, gentamicin, and tobramycin). At the genome-scale, we show significant (p<0.05) overlap in genes identified for each aminoglycoside evaluated. Among the genomic segments identified, we confirmed increased resistance associated with an increased copy number of several genomic regions, including the ORF of PA5471, recently implicated in MexXY efflux pump related aminoglycoside resistance, PA4943-PA4946 (encoding a probable GTP-binding protein, a predicted host factor I protein, a delta 2-isopentenylpyrophosphate transferase, and DNA mismatch repair protein mutL), PA0960-PA0963 (encoding hypothetical proteins, a probable cold shock protein, a probable DNA-binding stress protein, and aspartyl-tRNA synthetase), a segment of PA4967 (encoding a topoisomerase IV subunit B), as well as a chimeric clone containing two inserts including the ORFs PA0547 and PA2326 (encoding a probable transcriptional regulator and a probable hypothetical protein, respectively).


The studies reported here demonstrate the application of new a genomic method, SCALEs, which can be used to improve understanding of the evolution of antibiotic resistance in P. aeruginosa. In our demonstration studies, we identified a significant number of genomic regions that increased resistance to multiple aminoglycosides. We identified genetic regions that include open reading frames that encode for products from many functional categories, including genes related to O-antigen synthesis, DNA repair, and transcriptional and translational processes.

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