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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e55052. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055052. Epub 2013 Jan 31.

Genome-wide identification of genes conferring energy related resistance to a synthetic antimicrobial peptide (Bac8c).

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Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA.


A fundamental issue in the design and development of antimicrobials is the lack of understanding of complex modes of action and how this complexity affects potential pathways for resistance evolution. Bac8c (RIWVIWRR-NH(2)) is an 8 amino acid antimicrobial peptide (AMP) that has been shown to have enhanced activity against a range of pathogenic Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, as well as yeast. We have previously demonstrated that Bac8c appears to interfere with multiple targets, at least in part through the disruption of cytoplasmic membrane related functions, and that resistance to this peptide does not easily develop using standard laboratory methods. Here, we applied a genomics approach, SCalar Analysis of Library Enrichement (SCALEs), to map the effect of gene overexpression onto Bac8c resistance in parallel for all genes and gene combinations (up to ∼ 10 adjacent genes) in the E. coli genome (a total of ∼ 500,000 individual clones were mapped). Our efforts identified an elaborate network of genes for which overexpression leads to low-level resistance to Bac8c (including biofilm formation, multi-drug transporters, etc). This data was analyzed to provide insights into the complex relationships between mechanisms of action and potential routes by which resistance to this synthetic AMP can develop.

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