β-Lactamase-mediated resistance to ceftazidime-avibactam (CZA) is a serious limitation in the treatment of Gram-negative bacteria harboring Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC). Herein, the basis of susceptibility to carbapenems and resistance to ceftazidime (CAZ) and CZA of the D179Y variant of KPC-2 and -3 was explored. First, we determined that resistance to CZA in a laboratory strain of Escherichia coli DH10B was not due to increased expression levels of the variant enzymes, as demonstrated by reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR). Using timed mass spectrometry, the D179Y variant formed prolonged acyl-enzyme complexes with imipenem (IMI) and meropenem (MEM) in KPC-2 and KPC-3, which could be detected up to 24 h, suggesting that IMI and MEM act as covalent β-lactamase inhibitors more than as substrates for D179Y KPC-2 and -3. This prolonged acyl-enzyme complex of IMI and MEM by D179Y variants was not observed with wild-type (WT) KPCs. CAZ was studied and the D179Y variants also formed acyl-enzyme complexes (1 to 2 h). Thermal denaturation and differential scanning fluorimetry showed that the tyrosine substitution at position 179 destabilized the KPC β-lactamases (KPC-2/3 melting temperature [Tm] of 54 to 55°C versus D179Y Tm of 47.5 to 51°C), and the D179Y protein was 3% disordered compared to KPC-2 at 318 K. Heteronuclear 1H/15N-heteronuclear single quantum coherence (HSQC) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy also revealed that the D179Y variant, compared to KPC-2, is partially disordered. Based upon these observations, we discuss the impact of disordering of the Ω loop as a consequence of the D179Y substitution. These conformational changes and disorder in the overall structure as a result of D179Y contribute to this unanticipated phenotype.
Keywords: D179Y; KPC; KPC D179Y; Klebsiella pneumoniae; antibiotic resistance; beta-lactamases; ceftazidime-avibactam resistance.