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Experimental Evolution of Diverse Strains as a Method for the Determination of Biochemical Mechanisms of Action for Novel Pyrrolizidinone Antibiotics

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journal contribution
posted on 23.09.2017, 00:00 by Kathryn Beabout, Megan D. McCurry, Heer Mehta, Akshay A. Shah, Kiran Kumar Pulukuri, Stephan Rigol, Yanping Wang, K. C. Nicolaou, Yousif Shamoo
The continuing rise of multidrug resistant pathogens has made it clear that in the absence of new antibiotics we are moving toward a “postantibiotic” world, in which even routine infections will become increasingly untreatable. There is a clear need for the development of new antibiotics with truly novel mechanisms of action to combat multidrug resistant pathogens. Experimental evolution to resistance can be a useful tactic for the characterization of the biochemical mechanism of action for antibiotics of interest. Herein, we demonstrate that the use of a diverse panel of strains with well-annotated reference genomes improves the success of using experimental evolution to characterize the mechanism of action of a novel pyrrolizidinone antibiotic analog. Importantly, we used experimental evolution under conditions that favor strongly polymorphic populations to adapt a panel of three substantially different Gram-positive species (lab strain Bacillus subtilis and clinical strains methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus MRSA131 and Enterococcus faecalis S613) to produce a sufficiently diverse set of evolutionary outcomes. Comparative whole genome sequencing (WGS) between the susceptible starting strain and the resistant strains was then used to identify the genetic changes within each species in response to the pyrrolizidinone. Taken together, the adaptive response across a range of organisms allowed us to develop a readily testable hypothesis for the mechanism of action of the CJ-16 264 analog. In conjunction with mitochondrial inhibition studies, we were able to elucidate that this novel pyrrolizidinone antibiotic is an electron transport chain (ETC) inhibitor. By studying evolution to resistance in a panel of different species of bacteria, we have developed an enhanced method for the characterization of new lead compounds for the discovery of new mechanisms of action.