Bacteria can cope with toxic compounds such as antibiotics by inducing genes for their detoxification. A common detoxification strategy is compound excretion by ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, which are synthesized upon compound contact. We previously identified the multidrug resistance ABC transporter LieAB in Listeria monocytogenes, a Gram-positive bacterium that occurs ubiquitously in the environment, but also causes severe infections in humans upon ingestion. Expression of the lieAB genes is strongly induced in cells lacking the PadR-type transcriptional repressor LftR, but compounds leading to relief of this repression in wild-type cells were not known. Using RNA-Seq and promoter-lacZ fusions, we demonstrate highly specific repression of the lieAB and lftRS promoters through LftR. Screening of a natural compound library yielded the depsipeptide aurantimycin A - synthesized by the soil-dwelling Streptomyces aurantiacus - as the first known naturally occurring inducer of lieAB expression. Genetic and phenotypic experiments concordantly show that aurantimycin A is a substrate of the LieAB transporter and thus, lftRS and lieAB represent the first known genetic module conferring and regulating aurantimycin A resistance. Collectively, these genes may support the survival of L. monocytogenes when it comes into contact with antibiotic-producing bacteria in the soil.
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.