Exploring the Ciprofloxacin Resistome

  • Datum:
  • Plats: B42, BMC, Husargatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Garoff, Linnéa
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för medicinsk biokemi och mikrobiologi
  • Kontaktperson: Garoff, Linnéa
  • Disputation

This thesis presents an exploration of the resistance evolution in Escherichia coli towards the antibiotic ciprofloxacin. High level ciprofloxacin resistance is typically acquired by an accumulation of mutations and plasmid borne genes reducing drug target binding, increasing drug efflux, and modifying the drug.

Paper I describes the finding that novel mutations in tRNA synthetase gene leuS conferred resistance to ciprofloxacin. We also provided evidence for a mechanism, where the leuS mutations induced global changes in transcription that generated a net effect of increased drug efflux.

In Paper II we observed that the evolutionary trajectory towards high level ciprofloxacin resistance in E. coli is repeatable and predictable in in vitro evolution experiments. However, the types and order of appearance of selected mutations was highly dependent on the bottleneck size used. In addition to the findings in Paper I, we found that mutations involved in transcription and translation were repeatedly selected upon subjection to high concentrations of ciprofloxacin.

Paper III explored the resistance capacity of the plasmid-borne gene qnr, which reduces ciprofloxacin susceptibility by a target protection mechanism. We found that upon increased expression, the gene qnrS was able to bring E. coli to clinically resistant levels of ciprofloxacin without the addition of other resistance elements.  

In Paper IV we aimed for a similar study as described above but with another plasmid-borne gene, the inner-membrane efflux pump qepA. However, we ran into the interesting finding of a potentially undescribed regulatory mechanism of qepA expression, which we are currently investigating.

The work in this thesis presents a new addition of mutations causing ciprofloxacin resistance, and evidence that the dogma of accumulative mutations being a requirement to develop clinical resistance to ciprofloxacin in E. coli can be circumvented. This shows that there is still much to explore, even with a drug used for several decades with an already well documented resistome. We need to learn more about the evolutionary trajectories leading to antibiotic resistance, in order to slow down its development towards existing and future antibiotics to the furthest extent possible.