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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2012 May;56(5):2335-41. doi: 10.1128/AAC.06066-11. Epub 2012 Feb 13.

Fitness cost and interference of Arm/Rmt aminoglycoside resistance with the RsmF housekeeping methyltransferases.

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  • 1Departamento de Sanidad Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.

Abstract

Arm/Rmt methyltransferases have emerged recently in pathogenic bacteria as enzymes that confer high-level resistance to 4,6-disubstituted aminoglycosides through methylation of the G1405 residue in the 16S rRNA (like ArmA and RmtA to -E). In prokaryotes, nucleotide methylations are the most common type of rRNA modification, and they are introduced posttranscriptionally by a variety of site-specific housekeeping enzymes to optimize ribosomal function. Here we show that while the aminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase RmtC methylates G1405, it impedes methylation of the housekeeping methyltransferase RsmF at position C1407, a nucleotide that, like G1405, forms part of the aminoglycoside binding pocket of the 16S rRNA. To understand the origin and consequences of this phenomenon, we constructed a series of in-frame knockout and knock-in mutants of Escherichia coli, corresponding to the genotypes rsmF(+), ΔrsmF, rsmF(+) rmtC(+), and ΔrsmF rmtC(+). When analyzed for the antimicrobial resistance pattern, the ΔrsmF bacteria had a decreased susceptibility to aminoglycosides, including 4,6- and 4,5-deoxystreptamine aminoglycosides, showing that the housekeeping methylation at C1407 is involved in intrinsic aminoglycoside susceptibility in E. coli. Competition experiments between the isogenic E. coli strains showed that, contrary to expectation, acquisition of rmtC does not entail a fitness cost for the bacterium. Finally, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry allowed us to determine that RmtC methylates the G1405 residue not only in presence but also in the absence of aminoglycoside antibiotics. Thus, the coupling between housekeeping and acquired methyltransferases subverts the methylation architecture of the 16S rRNA but elicits Arm/Rmt methyltransferases to be selected and retained, posing an important threat to the usefulness of aminoglycosides worldwide.

PMID:
22330907
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3346654
Free PMC Article
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