The nitroimidazole prodrugs delamanid and pretomanid comprise one of only two new antimicrobial classes approved to treat tuberculosis (TB) in 50 years. Prior in vitro studies suggest a relatively low barrier to nitroimidazole resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but clinical evidence is limited to date. We selected pretomanid-resistant M. tuberculosis mutants in two mouse models of TB using a range of pretomanid doses. The frequency of spontaneous resistance was approximately 10-5 CFU. Whole-genome sequencing of 161 resistant isolates from 47 mice revealed 99 unique mutations, of which 91% occurred in 1 of 5 genes previously associated with nitroimidazole activation and resistance, namely, fbiC (56%), fbiA (15%), ddn (12%), fgd (4%), and fbiB (4%). Nearly all mutations were unique to a single mouse and not previously identified. The remaining 9% of resistant mutants harbored mutations in Rv2983 (fbiD), a gene not previously associated with nitroimidazole resistance but recently shown to be a guanylyltransferase necessary for cofactor F420 synthesis. Most mutants exhibited high-level resistance to pretomanid and delamanid, although Rv2983 and fbiB mutants exhibited high-level pretomanid resistance but relatively small changes in delamanid susceptibility. Complementing an Rv2983 mutant with wild-type Rv2983 restored susceptibility to pretomanid and delamanid. By quantifying intracellular F420 and its precursor Fo in overexpressing and loss-of-function mutants, we provide further evidence that Rv2983 is necessary for F420 biosynthesis. Finally, Rv2983 mutants and other F420H2-deficient mutants displayed hypersusceptibility to some antibiotics and to concentrations of malachite green found in solid media used to isolate and propagate mycobacteria from clinical samples.
Keywords: cofactor F420; mouse model; nitroimidazole; resistance; tuberculosis.
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