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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 May;55(5):2189-96. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01203-10. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Nitric oxide protects bacteria from aminoglycosides by blocking the energy-dependent phases of drug uptake.

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Department of Microbiology, Mail Box 8333, University of Colorado School of Medicine, P.O. Box 6511, Room P18-9131, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.


Our investigations have identified a mechanism by which exogenous production of nitric oxide (NO) induces resistance of Gram-positive and -negative bacteria to aminoglycosides. An NO donor was found to protect Salmonella spp. against structurally diverse classes of aminoglycosides of the 4,6-disubstituted 2-deoxystreptamine group. Likewise, NO generated enzymatically by inducible NO synthase of gamma interferon-primed macrophages protected intracellular Salmonella against the cytotoxicity of gentamicin. NO levels that elicited protection against aminoglycosides repressed Salmonella respiratory activity. NO nitrosylated terminal quinol cytochrome oxidases, without exerting long-lasting inhibition of NADH dehydrogenases of the electron transport chain. The NO-mediated repression of respiratory activity blocked both energy-dependent phases I and II of aminoglycoside uptake but not the initial electrostatic interaction of the drug with the bacterial cell envelope. As seen in Salmonella, the NO-dependent inhibition of the electron transport chain also afforded aminoglycoside resistance to the clinically important pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Together, these findings provide evidence for a model in which repression of aerobic respiration by NO fluxes associated with host inflammatory responses can reduce drug uptake, thus promoting resistance to several members of the aminoglycoside family in phylogenetically diverse bacteria.

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