Objectives: To study the role of the multidrug efflux system AcrAB-TolC in resistance of multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) phage type DT104 and DT204 strains to detergents and bile salts. To evaluate the importance of the inner membrane transporter AcrB and the outer membrane component TolC of this efflux system in the colonization of two multidrug-resistant S. Typhimurium DT104 and one DT204 strain in chicks.
Methods: acrB and tolC mutants of multidrug-resistant S. Typhimurium DT104 and DT204 strains were constructed by insertional inactivation of the acrB gene and deletion of the tolC gene. MICs of detergent and bile salts were determined for the wild-type strains, the acrB and the tolC mutant strains, in presence and in absence of the efflux pump inhibitor Phe-Arg beta-naphthylamide. The effect of sodium choleate on the in vitro growth of these strains was also evaluated. The LD50s of the strains were measured in a day-old chicken model, inoculated with several doses (1 x 10(3) to 1 x 10(8) cfu) by the oral route, for 7 days post-inoculation. The colonization levels were assessed at the sublethal dose 7 days post-inoculation by determining the number of cfu of Salmonella in the faeces, caecum, spleen and liver.
Results: The decrease in resistance levels to bile salts was 64- to 256-fold higher for the tolC mutants than for the acrB mutants relative to those of the parental strains. Addition of choleate in culture medium did not affect the growth of the wild-type strains or that of the acrB mutants, but inhibited completely the growth of the tolC mutants. The LD50s were 1.0 x 10(6) and 1.2 x 10(7) cfu for one wild-type S. Typhimurium DT104 strain and the acrB mutant, respectively, and were >1.0 x 10(8) for the tolC mutants or the S. Typhimurium DT204 strains. In contrast to the acrB mutants, the tolC mutants were unable to colonize the caecum, spleen and liver after 1 week of infection. Moreover, in most chicks, no intestinal excretion was detected for the tolC mutants. The colonization levels of the acrB mutants were not significantly different from those of the wild-type strains.
Conclusions: TolC but not AcrB appears to be essential for multidrug-resistant S. Typhimurium DT104 and DT204 colonization of chicks, which is in accordance with their respective roles in resistance to detergents and bile salts. Therefore, TolC could be a better target than AcrB for the development of efflux pump inhibitors.