Characterization of MexE-MexF-OprN, a positively regulated multidrug efflux system of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Mol Microbiol. 1997 Jan;23(2):345-54. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1997.2281594.x.


Antibiotic-resistant mutants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa were generated using chloramphenicol and ciprofloxacin as selective agents. These mutants displayed a multidrug phenotype and overexpressed an outer membrane protein of 50 kDa, which was shown by Western blot analysis to correspond to OprN. A cosmid clone harbouring the oprN gene was isolated by partial complementation of a mutant deficient in OprM, the outer membrane component of the mexAB-oprM efflux operon. Antibiotic-accumulation studies indicated that OprN was part of an energy-dependent antibiotic-efflux system. Sequencing of a 6180bp fragment from the complementing cosmid revealed the presence of three open reading frames (ORFs), which exhibited amino acid similarity to the components of the mexAB-oprM and mexCD-oprJ efflux operons of P. aeruginosa. The ORFs were designated MexE, MexF and OprN. Mutation of the mexE gene eliminated the multidrug-resistance phenotype in an OprN-overexpressing strain, but did not affect the susceptibility profile of the wild-type strain. Expression of the mexEF-oprN operon was shown to be positively regulated by a protein encoded on a 1.5 kb DNA fragment located upstream of mexE and belonging to the LysR family of transcriptional activators. The presence of a plasmid containing this DNA fragment was sufficient to confer a multidrug phenotype onto the wild-type strain but not onto the mexE mutant. Evidence is provided to show that the mexEF-oprN operon may be involved in the excretion of intermediates for the biosynthesis of pyocyanin, a typical secondary metabolite of P. aeruginosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • OprN protein, Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X99514