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, 21 (4), 713-24

Overexpression of the mexC-mexD-oprJ Efflux Operon in nfxB-type Multidrug-Resistant Strains of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

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Overexpression of the mexC-mexD-oprJ Efflux Operon in nfxB-type Multidrug-Resistant Strains of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

K Poole et al. Mol Microbiol.

Abstract

OprJ, overproduced in nfxB multidrug-resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and OprK, overproduced in the multidrug-resistant strain K385, were demonstrated to be immunologically cross-reactive using an OprJ-specific monoclonal antibody. Treatment of the purified proteins with trypsin or chymotrypsin yielded virtually indistinguishable digestion patterns, and the N-terminal sequence of two trypsin fragments was identical for both proteins, indicating that OprJ and OprK share identity. The N-terminal amino acid sequences were used to facilitate cloning of the oprJ gene on a 5kbp Kpnl fragment and a 10 kbp BamHl fragment. Nucleotide sequencing of portions of these fragments revealed that oprJ was the terminal gene in a putative three-gene operon, mexC-mexD-oprJ. The predicted mexC-mexD-oprJ gene products exhibit homology to the MexA-MexB-OprM components of the multidrug-resistance efflux pump of P. aeruginosa (43-46% identity). Consistent with an implied role for mexC-mexD-oprJ in drug efflux, the mexC-mexD-oprJ-hyperexpressing strain K385 showed reduced accumulation of a variety of antibiotics as compared with its parent strain, and this drug 'exclusion' was abrogated by energy inhibitors. The mexC and oprJ products are putative lipoproteins of a molecular mass of 40,707 and 51,742 Da, respectively, while mexD was predicted to encode a protein of 111 936 Da. Sequencing upstream of mexC revealed the presence of the nfxB gene transcribed divergently from the efflux genes. Overproduction of OprJ and the attendant multiple-antibiotic resistance of strain K385 was shown to result from a point mutation in nfxB, resulting in a H87-->R change in the predicted NfxB polypeptide. OprJ overproduction and multidrug resistance in K385 was reversed by the cloned nfxB gene, suggesting that nfxB encodes a repressor of mexC-mexD-oprJ expression. Consistent with this, the cloned nfxB gene repressed synthesis of a mexC-lacZ fusion in Escherichia coli. nfxB also repressed expression of a nfxB-lacZ fusion, indicating that NfxB negatively regulates its own expression. These data indicate that the multidrug resistance of nfxB strains is due to overexpression of an efflux operon, mexC-mexD-oprJ, encoding components of a second efflux pump in P. aeruginosa.

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