In this study, a draft genome sequence of Actinoplanes sp. ATCC 53533 was assembled, and an 81-kb biosynthetic cluster for the unusual sulfated glycopeptide UK-68,597 was identified. Glycopeptide antibiotics are important in the treatment of infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria. Glycopeptides contain heptapeptide backbones that are modified by many tailoring enzymes, including glycosyltransferases, sulfotransferases, methyltransferases, and halogenases, generating extensive chemical and functional diversity. Several tailoring enzymes in the cluster were examined in vitro for their ability to modify glycopeptides, resulting in the synthesis of novel molecules. Tailoring enzymes were also expressed in the producer of the glycopeptide aglycone A47934, generating additional chemical diversity. This work characterizes the biosynthetic program of UK-68,597 and demonstrates the capacity to expand glycopeptide chemical diversity by harnessing the unique chemistry of tailoring enzymes.
Accurate detection of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) is essential in preventing transmission in health care settings. Chromogenic media are widely used for screening VRE because of fast turnaround times (TAT) and high sensitivity. We report an outbreak of Enterococcus faecium bearing vanA yet susceptible to vancomycin (vancomycin-variable Enterococcus [VVE]). Between October 2009 to March 2011, clinical and screening specimens (n=14,747) were screened for VRE using VRE-selective medium and/or PCR. VVE isolates were genotyped to determine relatedness. Plasmids from these isolates were characterized by sequencing. Overall, 52 VVE isolates were identified, comprising 15% of all VRE isolates identified. Isolates demonstrated growth on Brilliance VRE agar (Oxoid) at 24 h of incubation but did not grow on brain heart infusion agar with 6 ?g/ml vancomycin (Oxoid) or bile esculin azide agar with 6 ?g/ml vancomycin (Oxoid) and were susceptible to vancomycin. Genotyping of 20 randomly selected VVE isolates revealed that 15/20 were identical, while 5 were highly related. PCR of the VVE transposon confirmed the presence of vanHAXY gene cluster; however, vanS (sensor) and vanR (regulator) genes were absent. The outbreak was controlled through routine infection control measures. We report an emergence of a fit strain of E. faecium containing vanA yet susceptible to vancomycin. Whether this new strain represents VRE has yet to be determined; however, unique testing procedures are required for reliable identification of VVE.
Streptomyces calvus is best known as the producer of the fluorinated natural product nucleocidin. This strain of Streptomycetes is also unusual for displaying a "bald" phenotype that is deficient in the formation of aerial mycelium and spores. Genome sequencing of this organism revealed a point mutation in the bldA gene that is predicted to encode a misfolded Leu-tRNA(UUA) molecule. Complementation of S. calvus with a correct copy of bldA restored sporulation and additionally promoted production of a polyeneoic acid amide, 4-Z-annimycin, and a minor amount of the isomer, 4-E-annimycin. Bioassays reveal that these compounds inhibit morphological differentiation in other Actinobacteria. The annimycin gene cluster encoding a type 1 polyketide synthase was identified and verified through disruption studies. This study underscores the importance of the bldA gene in regulating the expression of cryptic biosynthetic genes.
The field of antibiotic drug discovery and the monitoring of new antibiotic resistance elements have yet to fully exploit the power of the genome revolution. Despite the fact that the first genomes sequenced of free living organisms were those of bacteria, there have been few specialized bioinformatic tools developed to mine the growing amount of genomic data associated with pathogens. In particular, there are few tools to study the genetics and genomics of antibiotic resistance and how it impacts bacterial populations, ecology, and the clinic. We have initiated development of such tools in the form of the Comprehensive Antibiotic Research Database (CARD; http://arpcard.mcmaster.ca). The CARD integrates disparate molecular and sequence data, provides a unique organizing principle in the form of the Antibiotic Resistance Ontology (ARO), and can quickly identify putative antibiotic resistance genes in new unannotated genome sequences. This unique platform provides an informatic tool that bridges antibiotic resistance concerns in health care, agriculture, and the environment.
The discovery of antibiotics more than 70 years ago initiated a period of drug innovation and implementation in human and animal health and agriculture. These discoveries were tempered in all cases by the emergence of resistant microbes. This history has been interpreted to mean that antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria is a modern phenomenon; this view is reinforced by the fact that collections of microbes that predate the antibiotic era are highly susceptible to antibiotics. Here we report targeted metagenomic analyses of rigorously authenticated ancient DNA from 30,000-year-old Beringian permafrost sediments and the identification of a highly diverse collection of genes encoding resistance to ?-lactam, tetracycline and glycopeptide antibiotics. Structure and function studies on the complete vancomycin resistance element VanA confirmed its similarity to modern variants. These results show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use.
The unremitting emergence of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens highlights a matching need for new therapeutic options. For example, new carbapenemases such as KPC (class A Klebsiella pneumoniae) and NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-?-lactamase 1) are surfacing, resulting in almost total resistance to ?-lactam antibiotics. Furthermore, resistance is quickly disseminated, not only in the healthcare sector, but also within the community at large, because many resistance determinants are carried on mobile genetic elements readily shared among pathogens. The absence of new antibiotics has led to a growing reliance on older, more toxic drugs such as colistin, but resistance to these is already arising. One approach to combat this growing problem is the use of combination drug antibiotic adjuvant therapy, which potentiates the activity of antibiotics. Here, we review the current situation and discuss potential drug combinations that may increase the potency of antibiotics in the future. Adjuvant therapies include antibiotic combinations, synergy between antibiotics and nonantibiotics, inhibition of resistance and molecules that alter the physiology of antibiotic-insensitive cells, such as those in biofilms. We provide a rationale for these multicomponent strategies, highlighting current research and important considerations for their clinical use and pharmacological properties.
The glycopeptide vancomycin is a drug of last resort for infection with gram-positive organisms, and three genes are vital to resistance: vanH, vanA, and vanX. These genes are found in a vanHAX cluster, which is conserved across pathogenic bacteria, glycopeptide antibiotic producers, and other environmental bacteria. The genome sequence of the anaerobic, gram-positive, dehalogenating bacterium Desulfitobacterium hafniense Y51 revealed a predicted vanA homolog; however, it exists in a vanAWK-murFX cluster, unlike those of other vancomycin-resistant organisms. Using purified recombinant VanA from D. hafniense Y51, we determined its substrate specificity and found it to have a 42-fold preference for D-lactate over D-alanine, confirming its activity as a D-Ala-D-Lac ligase and its annotation as VanA. Furthermore, we showed that D. hafniense Y51 is highly resistant to vancomycin, with a MIC for growth of 64 microg/ml. Finally, vanA(Dh) is expressed during growth in vancomycin, as demonstrated by reverse transcription-PCR. This finding represents a new glycopeptide antibiotic resistance gene cluster and expands the genetic diversity of resistance to this important class of antibiotic.
The incidence of antibiotic resistance among pathogenic microorganisms is increasing at an alarming rate. Resistance against front-line therapeutics such as the glycopeptide antibiotic vancomycin has emerged and has spread to highly virulent pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. Glycopeptide antibiotics are natural products from the Actinomycetes that have a characteristic heptapeptide core. The chemical diversity of the class is achieved through glycosylation, halogenation, methylation, and acylation of the core, modifications that are implicated in improved solubility, stability, or activity of the molecule. Sulfation is yet another modification observed infrequently in glycopeptides, but its role is not known. Although glycopeptide sulfotransferases are found in the environmental metagenome and must therefore serve an evolutionary purpose, all previous studies have reported decreased antibiotic activity with sulfation. We report that sulfation of glycopeptides has little effect on the compounds ability to bind its target, the d-Ala-d-Ala peptidoglycan precursors of the bacterial cell wall. However, sulfation does impact glycopeptide dimerization, and importantly, sulfated glycopeptides are significantly less potent inducers of the resistance gene cluster vanHAX in actinomycetes. Our results begin to unravel the mystery of the biological role of glycopeptide sulfation and offer a potential new strategy for the development of new antibiotics that avoid resistance.
Although glycopeptide antibiotics (GPAs), including vancomycin and teicoplanin, represent the most important class of anti-infective agents in the treatment of serious gram-positive bacterial infections, their usefulness is threatened by the emergence of resistant strains. GPAs are complex natural products consisting of a heptapeptide skeleton assembled via nonribosomal peptide synthesis and constrained through multiple crosslinks, with diversity resulting from enzymatic modifications by a variety of tailoring enzymes, which can be used to produce GPA analogues that could overcome antibiotic resistance. GPA-modifying sulfotransferases are promising tools for generating the unique derivatives. Despite significant sequence and structural similarities, these sulfotransferases modify distinct side chains on the GPA scaffold. To provide insight into the spatial diversity of modifications, we have determined the crystal structure of the ternary complex of bacterial sulfotransferase StaL with the cofactor product 3-phosphoadenosine 5-phosphate and desulfo-A47934 aglycone substrate. Desulfo-A47934 binds with the hydroxyl group on the 4-hydroxyphenylglycine in residue 1 directed toward the 3-phosphoadenosine 5-phosphate and hydrogen-bonded to the catalytic His67. Homodimeric StaL can accommodate GPA substrate in only one of the two active sites because of potential steric clashes. Importantly, the aglycone substrate demonstrates a flattened conformation, in contrast to the cup-shaped structures observed previously. Analysis of the conformations of this scaffold showed that despite the apparent rigidity due to crosslinking between the side chains, the aglycone scaffold displays substantial flexibility, important for enzymatic modifications by the GPA-tailoring enzymes. We also discuss the potential of using the current structural information in generating unique GPA derivatives.
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