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J Bacteriol. 2005 Jul;187(14):4707-19.

The Burkholderia pseudomallei BpeAB-OprB efflux pump: expression and impact on quorum sensing and virulence.

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Department of Biochemistry, National University of Singapore.


BpeAB-OprB is a multidrug efflux pump of the bacterial pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei and is responsible for conferring antimicrobial resistance to aminoglycosides and macrolides. Expression of bpeAB-oprB is inducible by its substrate erythromycin and upon entry into stationary phase. BpeR, a member of the TetR family, functions as a repressor of the bpeAB-oprB operon. bpeR expression was similarly induced at stationary phase but lagged behind the induction of bpeAB-oprB expression. The induction of bpeAB-oprB expression could be advanced to the early exponential phase by exogenous addition of the B. pseudomallei autoinducers N-octanoyl-homoserine lactone (C8HSL) and N-decanoyl-homoserine lactone (C10HSL), suggesting that the bpeAB-oprB operon may be quorum regulated. On the other hand, acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) production was undetectable in the bpeAB-null mutant and strains which overexpress bpeR. The failure of these strains to produce acyl-HSLs seemed to be at the level of synthesis of acyl-HSLs, as growth-phase-dependent expression of the autoinducer synthase BpsI was abolished in the bpeAB-null mutant. bpsI expression remained growth phase dependent in the bpeR mutant which had functional BpeAB-OprB. BpeAB-OprB function is likewise necessary for optimal production of quorum-sensing-controlled virulence factors such as siderophore and phospholipase C and for biofilm formation. Cell invasion and cytotoxicity towards human lung epithelial (A549) and human macrophage (THP-1) cells were also significantly attenuated in both the bpeAB mutant and bpeR-overexpressing strains, thus suggesting the possibility of attenuating B. pseudomallei virulence using inhibitors of the BpeAB-OprB efflux pump.

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