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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56858. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056858. Epub 2013 Feb 18.

Antibiotic inducibility of the mexXY multidrug efflux operon of Pseudomonas aeruginosa: involvement of the MexZ anti-repressor ArmZ.

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Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Botterell Hall, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Expression of the mexXY multidrug efflux operon in wild type Pseudomonas aeruginosa is substantially enhanced by the ribosome-targeting antimicrobial spectinomycin (18-fold) and this is wholly dependent upon the product of the PA5471 gene. In a mutant strain lacking the mexZ gene encoding a repressor of mexXY gene expression, expression of the efflux operon increases modestly (5-fold) and is still responsive (18-fold) to spectinomycin. Spectinomycin induction of mexXY expression in the mexZ mutant is, however, independent of PA5471 suggesting that PA5471 functions as an anti-repressor (dubbed ArmZ for anti-repressor MexZ) that serves only to modulate MexZ's repressor activity, with additional gene(s)/gene product(s) providing for the bulk of the antimicrobial-inducible mexXY expression. Consistent with PA5471/ArmZ functioning as a MexZ anti-repressor, an interaction between MexZ and ArmZ was confirmed using a bacterial 2-hybrid assay. Mutations compromising this interaction (P68S, G76S, R216C, R221W, R221Q, G231D and G252S) were identified and localized to one region of an ArmZ structural model that may represent a MexZ-interacting domain. Introduction of representative mutations into the chromosome of P. aeruginosa reduced (P68S, G76S) or obviated (R216C, R2211W) antimicrobial induction of mexXY gene expression, rendering the mutants pan-aminoglycoside-susceptible. These data confirm the importance of an ArmZ-MexZ interaction for antimicrobial-inducible mexXY expression and intrinsic aminoglycoside resistance in P. aeruginosa.

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