Target (MexB)- and Efflux-Based Mechanisms Decreasing the Effectiveness of the Efflux Pump Inhibitor D13-9001 in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1: Uncovering a New Role for MexMN-OprM in Efflux of β-Lactams and a Novel Regulatory Circuit (MmnRS) Controlling MexMN Expression

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2019 Jan 29;63(2):e01718-18. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01718-18. Print 2019 Feb.


Efflux pumps contribute to antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative pathogens. Correspondingly, efflux pump inhibitors (EPIs) may reverse this resistance. D13-9001 specifically inhibits MexAB-OprM in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Mutants with decreased susceptibility to MexAB-OprM inhibition by D13-9001 were identified, and these fell into two categories: those with alterations in the target MexB (F628L and ΔV177) and those with an alteration in a putative sensor kinase of unknown function, PA1438 (L172P). The alterations in MexB were consistent with reported structural studies of the D13-9001 interaction with MexB. The PA1438L172P alteration mediated a >150-fold upregulation of MexMN pump gene expression and a >50-fold upregulation of PA1438 and the neighboring response regulator gene, PA1437. We propose that these be renamed mmnR and mmnS for MexMN regulator and MexMN sensor, respectively. MexMN was shown to partner with the outer membrane channel protein OprM and to pump several β-lactams, monobactams, and tazobactam. Upregulated MexMN functionally replaced MexAB-OprM to efflux these compounds but was insusceptible to inhibition by D13-9001. MmnSL172P also mediated a decrease in susceptibility to imipenem and biapenem that was independent of MexMN-OprM. Expression of oprD, encoding the uptake channel for these compounds, was downregulated, suggesting that this channel is also part of the MmnSR regulon. Transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) of cells encoding MmnSL172P revealed, among other things, an interrelationship between the regulation of mexMN and genes involved in heavy metal resistance.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa; drug resistance mechanisms; efflux pump inhibitor; efflux pumps; heavy metals; β-lactams.

MeSH terms

  • Imipenem / pharmacology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Monobactams / pharmacology
  • Piperidines / pharmacology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Tazobactam / pharmacology
  • Thienamycins / pharmacology
  • Transcriptome / genetics
  • beta-Lactams / pharmacology*


  • D13-9001
  • Monobactams
  • Piperidines
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Thienamycins
  • beta-Lactams
  • Imipenem
  • Tazobactam
  • biapenem