Adaptation to the deleterious effects of antimicrobial drug resistance mutations by compensatory evolution

Res Microbiol. 2004 Jun;155(5):360-9. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2004.01.019.


Compensatory mutations, due to their ability to mask the deleterious effects of another mutation, are important for the adaptation and evolution of most organisms. Resistance to antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, herbicides and insecticides is usually associated with a fitness cost. As a result of compensatory evolution, the initial fitness costs conferred by resistance mutations (or other deleterious mutations) can often be rapidly and efficiently reduced. Such compensatory evolution is potentially of importance for (i) the long-term persistence of drug resistance, (ii) reducing the rate of fitness loss associated with the accumulation of deleterious mutations in small asexual populations, and (iii) the evolution of complexity of cellular processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics*
  • Gene Dosage
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gene Products, gag / genetics
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics
  • Genes, Viral / genetics
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / drug effects
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase / genetics
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Mutation* / drug effects
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Ribosomal Proteins / chemistry
  • Ribosomal Proteins / genetics
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Gene Products, gag
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • gag protein p1, Human immunodeficiency virus
  • HIV Reverse Transcriptase