For over half a century, actinomycetes have served as the most promising source of novel antibacterial scaffolds. However, over the years, there has been a decline in the discovery of new antibiotics from actinomycetes. This is partly due to the use of standard screening methods and platforms that result in the re-discovery of the same molecules. Thus, according to current estimates, the discovery of a new antibacterial requires screening of tens to hundreds of thousands of bacterial strains. We have devised a resistance-based antibacterial discovery platform by harnessing the innate self-protection mechanism of antibiotic producers. This protocol provides a detailed method for isolation of scaffold-specific antibacterial producers by isolating strains in the presence of a selective antibiotic. As a specific example, we describe isolation of glycopeptide antibiotic (GPA) producers from soil actinomycetes, using vancomycin as the antibiotic resistance filter. However, the protocol can be adapted to isolate diverse producers from various sources producing different scaffolds, by selecting an appropriate antibiotic as a screening filter. The protocol provides a solution for two major bottlenecks that impede the new drug discovery pipeline: low hit frequency and re-discovery of known molecules. The entire protocol, from soil collection to identification of putative antibacterial producers, takes about 6 weeks to complete.
Many environmental bacteria are multidrug-resistant and represent a reservoir of ancient antibiotic resistance determinants, which have been linked to genes found in pathogens. Exploring the environmental antibiotic resistome, therefore, reveals the diversity and evolution of antibiotic resistance and also provides insight into the vulnerability of clinically used antibiotics. In this study, we describe the identification of a highly conserved regulatory motif, the rifampin (RIF) -associated element (RAE), which is found upstream of genes encoding RIF-inactivating enzymes from a diverse collection of actinomycetes. Using gene expression assays, we confirmed that the RAE is involved in RIF-responsive regulation. By using the RAE as a probe for new RIF-associated genes in several actinomycete genomes, we identified a heretofore unknown RIF resistance gene, RIF phosphotransferase (rph). The RPH enzyme is a RIF-inactivating phosphotransferase and represents a new protein family in antibiotic resistance. RPH orthologs are widespread and found in RIF-sensitive bacteria, including Bacillus cereus and the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Heterologous expression and in vitro enzyme assays with purified RPHs from diverse bacterial genera show that these enzymes are capable of conferring high-level resistance to a variety of clinically used rifamycin antibiotics. This work identifies a new antibiotic resistance protein family and reinforces the fact that the study of resistance in environmental organisms can serve to identify resistance elements with relevance to pathogens.
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.
We report the draft genome sequence of Microbacterium sp. strain C448, isolated from agricultural soil with a decade of exposure to veterinary antibiotics on the basis of using sulfamethazine and other antibiotics as the sole sources of carbon. The genome sequence revealed that strain C448 harbors several antibiotic resistance genes, including sulI.
Yersinia pestis has caused at least three human plague pandemics. The second (Black Death, 14-17th centuries) and third (19-20th centuries) have been genetically characterised, but there is only a limited understanding of the first pandemic, the Plague of Justinian (6-8th centuries). To address this gap, we sequenced and analysed draft genomes of Y pestis obtained from two individuals who died in the first pandemic.
In the 19th century, there were several major cholera pandemics in the Indian subcontinent, Europe, and North America. The causes of these outbreaks and the genomic strain identities remain a mystery. We used targeted high-throughput sequencing to reconstruct the Vibrio cholerae genome from the preserved intestine of a victim of the 1849 cholera outbreak in Philadelphia, part of the second cholera pandemic. This O1 biotype strain has 95 to 97% similarity with the classical O395 genome, differing by 203 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), lacking three genomic islands, and probably having one or more tandem cholera toxin prophage (CTX) arrays, which potentially affected its virulence. This result highlights archived medical remains as a potential resource for investigations into the genomic origins of past pandemics.
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.
Edeines are atypical cationic peptides produced by Brevibacillus brevis Vm4 with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. These linear nonribosomal peptides bind to the 30S ribosomal subunit and block t-RNA binding to the P-site. To identify the mechanism of high-level self-resistance in the producing organism, the B. brevis Vm4 genome was sequenced and the edeine biosynthetic cluster discovered. A potential edeine-modifying enzyme, EdeQ, showed similarity to spermidine N-acetyltransferases. EdeQ was purified and shown to convert edeine to N-acetyledeine, which is inactive against cells in vivo and against cell-free extracts. Unexpectedly, tandem mass spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance demonstrate that N-acylation occurs on the free amine of the internal diaminopropionic acid rather than the N-terminal spermidine polyamine. Acetylation of edeine by EdeQ abolishes its ability to inhibit translation, thus conferring resistance to the antibiotic in the producing organism.
Microbially derived natural products are major sources of antibiotics and other medicines, but discovering new antibiotic scaffolds and increasing the chemical diversity of existing ones are formidable challenges. We have designed a screen to exploit the self-protection mechanism of antibiotic producers to enrich microbial libraries for producers of selected antibiotic scaffolds. Using resistance as a discriminating criterion we increased the discovery rate of producers of both glycopeptide and ansamycin antibacterial compounds by several orders of magnitude in comparison with historical hit rates. Applying a phylogeny-based screening filter for biosynthetic genes enabled the binning of producers of distinct scaffolds and resulted in the discovery of a glycopeptide antibacterial compound, pekiskomycin, with an unusual peptide scaffold. This strategy provides a means to readily sample the chemical diversity available in microbes and offers an efficient strategy for rapid discovery of microbial natural products and their associated biosynthetic enzymes.
The lipopeptide daptomycin is a member of the newest FDA-approved antimicrobial class, exhibiting potency against a broad range of Gram-positive pathogens with only rare incidences of clinical resistance. Environmental bacteria harbor an abundance of resistance determinants orthologous to those in pathogens and thus may serve as an early-warning system for future clinical emergence. A collection of morphologically diverse environmental actinomycetes demonstrating unprecedented frequencies of daptomycin resistance and high levels of resistance by antibiotic inactivation was characterized to elucidate modes of drug inactivation. In vivo studies revealed that hydrolysis plays a key role, resulting in one or both of the following structural modifications: ring hydrolysis resulting in linearization (in 44% of inactivating isolates) or deacylation of the lipid tail (29%). Characterization of the mechanism in actinomycete WAC4713 (a Streptomyces sp. with an MIC of 512 ?g/ml) demonstrated a constitutive resistance phenotype and established daptomycins circularizing ester linkage to be the site of hydrolysis. Characterization of the hydrolase responsible revealed it to be likely a serine protease. These studies suggested that daptomycin is susceptible to general proteolytic hydrolysis, which was further supported by studies using proteases of diverse origin. These findings represent the first comprehensive characterization of daptomycin inactivation in any bacterial class and may not only presage a future mechanism of clinical resistance but also suggest strategies for the development of new lipopeptides.
Kinase-mediated resistance to antibiotics is a significant clinical challenge. These enzymes share a common protein fold characteristic of Ser/Thr/Tyr protein kinases. We screened 14 antibiotic resistance kinases against 80 chemically diverse protein kinase inhibitors to map resistance kinase chemical space. The screens identified molecules with both broad and narrow inhibition profiles, proving that protein kinase inhibitors offer privileged chemical matter with the potential to block antibiotic resistance. One example is the flavonol quercetin, which inhibited a number of resistance kinases in vitro and in vivo. This activity was rationalized by determination of the crystal structure of the aminoglycoside kinase APH(2?)-IVa in complex with quercetin and its antibiotic substrate kanamycin. Our data demonstrate that protein kinase inhibitors offer chemical scaffolds that can block antibiotic resistance, providing leads for co-drug design.
Technological advances in DNA recovery and sequencing have drastically expanded the scope of genetic analyses of ancient specimens to the extent that full genomic investigations are now feasible and are quickly becoming standard. This trend has important implications for infectious disease research because genomic data from ancient microbes may help to elucidate mechanisms of pathogen evolution and adaptation for emerging and re-emerging infections. Here we report a reconstructed ancient genome of Yersinia pestis at 30-fold average coverage from Black Death victims securely dated to episodes of pestilence-associated mortality in London, England, 1348-1350. Genetic architecture and phylogenetic analysis indicate that the ancient organism is ancestral to most extant strains and sits very close to the ancestral node of all Y. pestis commonly associated with human infection. Temporal estimates suggest that the Black Death of 1347-1351 was the main historical event responsible for the introduction and widespread dissemination of the ancestor to all currently circulating Y. pestis strains pathogenic to humans, and further indicates that contemporary Y. pestis epidemics have their origins in the medieval era. Comparisons against modern genomes reveal no unique derived positions in the medieval organism, indicating that the perceived increased virulence of the disease during the Black Death may not have been due to bacterial phenotype. These findings support the notion that factors other than microbial genetics, such as environment, vector dynamics and host susceptibility, should be at the forefront of epidemiological discussions regarding emerging Y. pestis infections.
Microbes are exposed to compounds produced by members of their ecological niche, including molecules with antibiotic or antineoplastic activities. As a result, even bacteria that do not produce such compounds can harbor the genetic machinery to inactivate or degrade these molecules. Here, we investigated environmental actinomycetes for their ability to inactivate doxorubicin, an aminoglycosylated anthracycline anticancer drug. One strain, Streptomyces WAC04685, inactivates doxorubicin via a deglycosylation mechanism. Activity-based purification of the enzymes responsible for drug inactivation identified the NADH dehydrogenase component of respiratory electron transport complex I, which was confirmed by gene inactivation studies. A mechanism where reduction of the quinone ring of the anthracycline by NADH dehydrogenase leads to deglycosylation is proposed. This work adds anticancer drug inactivation to the enzymatic inactivation portfolio of actinomycetes and offers possibilities for novel applications in drug detoxification.
Identifying and understanding the collection of all antibiotic resistance determinants presented in the global microbiota, the antibiotic resistome, provides insight into the evolution of antibiotic resistance and critical information for the development of future antimicrobials. The rifamycins are broad-spectrum antibiotics that target bacterial transcription by inhibition of RNA polymerase. Although mutational alteration of the drug target is the predominant mechanism of resistance to this family of antibiotics in the clinic, a number of diverse inactivation mechanisms have also been reported. In this report, we investigate a subset of environmental rifampin-resistant actinomycete isolates and identify a diverse collection of rifampin inactivation mechanisms. We describe a single isolate, WAC1438, capable of inactivating rifampin by glycosylation. A draft genome sequence of WAC1438 (most closely related to Streptomyces speibonae, according to a 16S rRNA gene comparison) was assembled, and the associated rifampin glycosyltransferase open reading frame, rgt1438, was identified. The role of rgt1438 in rifampin resistance was confirmed by its disruption in the bacterial chromosome, resulting in a loss of antibiotic inactivation and a 4-fold decrease in MIC. Interestingly, examination of the RNA polymerase ?-subunit sequence of WAC1438 suggests that it harbors a resistant target and thus possesses dual mechanisms of rifamycin resistance. Using an in vitro assay with purified enzyme, Rgt1438 could inactivate a variety of rifamycin antibiotics with comparable steady-state kinetics constants. Our results identify rgt1438 as a rifampin resistance determinant from WAC1438 capable of inactivating an assortment of rifamycins, adding a new element to the rifampin resistome.
Antibiotic resistance is a global challenge that impacts all pharmaceutically used antibiotics. The origin of the genes associated with this resistance is of significant importance to our understanding of the evolution and dissemination of antibiotic resistance in pathogens. A growing body of evidence implicates environmental organisms as reservoirs of these resistance genes; however, the role of anthropogenic use of antibiotics in the emergence of these genes is controversial. We report a screen of a sample of the culturable microbiome of Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico, in a region of the cave that has been isolated for over 4 million years. We report that, like surface microbes, these bacteria were highly resistant to antibiotics; some strains were resistant to 14 different commercially available antibiotics. Resistance was detected to a wide range of structurally different antibiotics including daptomycin, an antibiotic of last resort in the treatment of drug resistant Gram-positive pathogens. Enzyme-mediated mechanisms of resistance were also discovered for natural and semi-synthetic macrolide antibiotics via glycosylation and through a kinase-mediated phosphorylation mechanism. Sequencing of the genome of one of the resistant bacteria identified a macrolide kinase encoding gene and characterization of its product revealed it to be related to a known family of kinases circulating in modern drug resistant pathogens. The implications of this study are significant to our understanding of the prevalence of resistance, even in microbiomes isolated from human use of antibiotics. This supports a growing understanding that antibiotic resistance is natural, ancient, and hard wired in the microbial pangenome.
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