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Genet Mol Res. 2003 Mar 31;2(1):48-62.

Efflux as a mechanism of resistance to antimicrobials in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and related bacteria: unanswered questions.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1682A, USA.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic human pathogen exhibiting innate resistance to multiple antimicrobial agents. This intrinsic multidrug resistance is caused by synergy between a low-permeability outer membrane and expression of a number of broadly-specific multidrug efflux (Mex) systems, including MexAB-OprM and MexXY-OprM. In addition to this intrinsic resistance, these and three additional systems, MexCD-OprJ, MexEF-OprN and MexJK-OprM promote acquired multidrug resistance as a consequence of hyper-expression of the efflux genes by mutational events. In addition to antibiotics, these pumps export biocides, dyes, detergents, metabolic inhibitors, organic solvents and molecules involved in bacterial cell-cell communication. Homologues of the resistance-nodulation-division systems of P. aeruginosa have been found in Burkholderia cepacia, B. pseudomallei, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, and the nonpathogen P. putida, where they play roles in resistance to antimicrobials and/or organic solvents. Despite intensive studies of these multidrug efflux systems over the past several years, their precise molecular architectures, their modes of regulation of expression and their natural functions remain largely unknown.

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