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Microorganisms. 2016 Feb 16;4(1). pii: E14. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms4010014.

Bacterial Multidrug Efflux Pumps: Much More Than Antibiotic Resistance Determinants.

Author information

1
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. pblanco@cnb.csic.es.
2
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. shernando@cnb.csic.es.
3
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. jareales@farm.ucm.es.
4
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. fcorona@cnb.csic.es.
5
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. felipe.lira@cnb.csic.es.
6
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. malcalde@cnb.csic.es.
7
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. abernardini@cnb.csic.es.
8
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. bsanchez@cnb.csic.es.
9
Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Darwin 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. jlmtnez@cnb.csic.es.

Abstract

Bacterial multidrug efflux pumps are antibiotic resistance determinants present in all microorganisms. With few exceptions, they are chromosomally encoded and present a conserved organization both at the genetic and at the protein levels. In addition, most, if not all, strains of a given bacterial species present the same chromosomally-encoded efflux pumps. Altogether this indicates that multidrug efflux pumps are ancient elements encoded in bacterial genomes long before the recent use of antibiotics for human and animal therapy. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that efflux pumps can extrude a wide range of substrates that include, besides antibiotics, heavy metals, organic pollutants, plant-produced compounds, quorum sensing signals or bacterial metabolites, among others. In the current review, we present information on the different functions that multidrug efflux pumps may have for the bacterial behaviour in different habitats as well as on their regulation by specific signals. Since, in addition to their function in non-clinical ecosystems, multidrug efflux pumps contribute to intrinsic, acquired, and phenotypic resistance of bacterial pathogens, the review also presents information on the search for inhibitors of multidrug efflux pumps, which are currently under development, in the aim of increasing the susceptibility of bacterial pathogens to antibiotics.

KEYWORDS:

MDR; antibiotic resistance; bacteria/plant interactions; multidrug efflux pumps; quorum sensing; solvent tolerance

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