Mechanisms and Biological Costs of Bacterial Resistance to Antimicrobial Peptides
Sammanfattning: The global increasing problem of antibiotic resistance necessarily drives the pursuit and discovery of new antimicrobial agents. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) initially seemed like promising new drug candidates. Already members of the innate immune system, it was assumed that they would be bioactive and non-toxic. Their common trait for fundamental, non-specific mode of action also seemed likely to reduce resistance development.In this thesis, we demonstrate the ease with which two species of pathogenic bacteria, the gram-negative Salmonella typhimurium (S. typhimurium), and the gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), can gain increased tolerance and stable resistance to various AMPs. By serially passaging each bacterial species separately under increasing AMP selection pressure we observed increasing AMP tolerance. Resulting in independent bacterial lineages exposed to four different AMPs (including a two-AMP combination) that exhibited 2 to 16-fold increases in MIC. Substantial cross-resistance between the AMPs was observed. Additionally, the S. aureus mutants were found to be cross-resistant to human beta-defensins 1, 2, 3, and 4.The LPS molecule, with mutations in the waaY, pmrB and phoP genes, was the principal target for S. typhimurium resistance development. The main target for S. aureus remained elusive. Reduced membrane potential was a common change for two of the mutants, but not for the others. All sequenced mutants had one or more mutations in various stress response pathways.Fitness of the resistant mutants was assayed by growth rate analysis and in vitro virulence factor testing (e.g. survival response to bile, superoxide, acidic pH). Furthermore an in vivo survival/virulence test involving a mouse competition experiment (S. typhimurium) and sepsis model (S. aureus) was performed. In the absence of AMPs there was often little or no fitness reduction in the mutants. Our results suggest that AMP resistance mechanisms do not irrevocably weaken either species with regard to virulence characteristics or survival within the host.In light of these findings, we suggest that the progression of therapeutic use of AMPs should proceed with great caution since otherwise we might select for AMP resistant mutants that are more resistant to our innate host defenses and thereby potentially more virulent.
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