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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2013 Jul;57(7):3078-84. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00268-13. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

Changes to its peptidoglycan-remodeling enzyme repertoire modulate β-lactam resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections and is resistant to many antibiotics. Among its primary mechanisms of resistance is expression of a chromosomally encoded AmpC β-lactamase that inactivates β-lactams. The mechanisms leading to AmpC expression in P. aeruginosa remain incompletely understood but are intricately linked to cell wall metabolism. To better understand the roles of peptidoglycan-active enzymes in AmpC expression-and consequent β-lactam resistance-a phenotypic screen of P. aeruginosa mutants lacking such enzymes was performed. Mutants lacking one of four lytic transglycosylases (LTs) or the nonessential penicillin-binding protein PBP4 (dacB) had altered β-lactam resistance. mltF and slt mutants with reduced β-lactam resistance were designated WIMPs (wall-impaired mutant phenotypes), while highly resistant dacB, sltB1, and mltB mutants were designated HARMs (high-level AmpC resistant mutants). Double mutants lacking dacB and sltB1 had extreme piperacillin resistance (>256 μg/ml) compared to either of the single knockouts (64 μg/ml for a dacB mutant and 12 μg/ml for an sltB1 mutant). Inactivation of ampC reverted these mutants to wild-type susceptibility, confirming that AmpC expression underlies resistance. dacB mutants had constitutively elevated AmpC expression, but the LT mutants had wild-type levels of AmpC in the absence of antibiotic exposure. These data suggest that there are at least two different pathways leading to AmpC expression in P. aeruginosa and that their simultaneous activation leads to extreme β-lactam resistance.

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