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J Appl Microbiol. 2000 Aug;89(2):289-95.

Outer membrane protein shifts in biocide-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1.

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Division of Molecular and Life Sciences, School of Science and Engineering, University of Abertay Dundee, UK.


Benzisothiazolone (BIT), N-methylisothiazolone (MIT) and 5-chloro-N-methylisothiazolone (CMIT) are highly effective biocidal agents and are used as preservatives in a variety of cosmetic preparations. The isothiazolones have proven efficacy against many fungal and bacterial species including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, some species are beginning to exhibit resistance towards this group of compounds after extended exposure. This experiment induced resistance in cultures of Ps. aeruginosa exposed to incrementally increasing sub-minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of the isothiazolones in their pure chemical forms. The induced resistance was observed as a gradual increase in MIC with each new passage. The MICs for all three test isothiazolones and a thiol-interactive control compound (thiomersal) increased by approximately twofold during the course of the experiment. The onset of resistance was also observed by reference to the altered presence of an outer membrane protein, designated the T-OMP, in SDS-PAGE preparations. T-OMP was observed to disappear from the biocide-exposed preparations and reappear when the resistance-induced cultures were passaged in the absence of biocide. This reappearance of T-OMP was not accompanied by a complete reversal of induced resistance, but by a small decrease in MIC. The induction of resistance towards one biocide resulted in the development of cross-resistance towards other members of the group and the control, thiomersal. It has been suggested that the disappearance of T-OMP from these preparations is associated with the onset of resistance to the isothiazolones in their Kathon form (CMIT and MIT).

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