The farAB-encoded efflux pump mediates resistance of gonococci to long-chained antibacterial fatty acids

Mol Microbiol. 1999 Aug;33(4):839-45. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1999.01530.x.


Gonococci often infect mucosal surfaces bathed in antibacterial fatty acids (FAs). Resistance of gonococci to FAs and other antibacterial hydrophobic agents has been attributed to the mtrCDE-encoded efflux pump system and a heretofore undefined mechanism. This alternative resistance mechanism has been suggested to mediate gonococcal resistance to long-chained FAs independently of the mtr efflux pump. We have now identified this alternative FA resistance system in gonococci and report that it bears significant similarity to the emrAB-encoded efflux pump possessed by Escherichia coli and the vceAB-encoded pump of Vibrio cholerae. We termed the gonococcal version of this efflux pump farAB (fatty acid resistance) to signify its involvement in FA resistance expressed by gonococci and to distinguish it from the emrAB- or vceAB-encoded pumps that modulate bacterial susceptibility to uncoupling agents and certain antibiotics. Although the farAB system in gonococci was found to provide resistance to FAs independently of the mtrCDE-encoded efflux pump, its function was dependent on the MtrE outer membrane protein. Moreover, expression of the tandemly linked farA and farB genes was positively associated with the presence of the MtrR transcriptional regulatory protein that normally downregulates the expression of mtrCDE. Thus, the data presented herein suggest that, while the mtrCDE- and farAB-encoded systems act independently to mediate resistance of gonococci to host-derived, hydrophobic antimicrobial agents, their capacity to export these agents is dependent on the same outer membrane protein (MtrE), and their expression may be differentially controlled by the same transcriptional regulatory protein (MtrR).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Neutral*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Drug Resistance
  • Escherichia coli
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Fatty Acids / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / drug effects
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / pathogenicity*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Vibrio cholerae


  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Neutral
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • EmrA protein, E coli
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • emrA protein, Bacteria
  • VceB protein, Vibrio cholerae

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF132909
  • GENBANK/AF132910