CanB is a metabolic mediator of antibiotic resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Nat Microbiol. 2023 Jan;8(1):28-39. doi: 10.1038/s41564-022-01282-x. Epub 2023 Jan 5.


The evolution of the obligate human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae has been shaped by selective pressures from diverse host niche environments and antibiotics. The varying prevalence of antibiotic resistance across N. gonorrhoeae lineages suggests that underlying metabolic differences may influence the likelihood of acquisition of specific resistance mutations. We hypothesized that the requirement for supplemental CO2, present in approximately half of isolates, reflects one such example of metabolic variation. Here, using a genome-wide association study and experimental investigations, we show that CO2 dependence is attributable to a single substitution in a β-carbonic anhydrase, CanB. CanB19E is necessary and sufficient for growth in the absence of CO2, and the hypomorphic CanB19G variant confers CO2 dependence. Furthermore, ciprofloxacin resistance is correlated with CanB19G in clinical isolates, and the presence of CanB19G increases the likelihood of acquisition of ciprofloxacin resistance. Together, our results suggest that metabolic variation has affected the acquisition of fluoroquinolone resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ciprofloxacin / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Gonorrhea*
  • Humans
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae* / genetics


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ciprofloxacin