Author(s): Fehri LF, SirandPugnet P, Gourgues G, Jan G, Wrblewski H,
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Abstract Antimicrobial peptides are widely distributed in nature, and in vertebrates, they play a key function in the innate immune defense system. It is generally agreed that these molecules may provide new antibiotics with therapeutic value. However, there are still many unsolved questions regarding the mechanisms underlying their antimicrobial activity as well as the mechanisms of resistance evolved by microorganisms against these molecules. The second point was addressed in this study. After determining the activity of 10 antimicrobial peptides against Mycoplasma pulmonis, a murine respiratory pathogen, the development of resistance was investigated. Following in vitro selection using subinhibitory concentrations of peptides, clones of this bacterium showing increased resistance to melittin or gramicidin D were obtained. For some of the clones, a cross-resistance was observed between these two peptides, in spite of their deep structural differences, and also with tetracycline. A proteomic analysis suggested that the stress response in these clones was constitutively activated, and this was confirmed by finding mutations in the hrcA gene; in mycoplasmas, bacteria which lack alternative sigma factors, the HrcA protein is supposed to play a key role as a negative regulator of heat shock proteins. By complementation of the hrcA mutants with the wild-type gene, the initial MICs of melittin and gramicidin D decreased to values close to the initial ones. This indicates that the resistance of M. pulmonis to these two antimicrobial peptides could result from a stress response involving HrcA-regulated genes.
This article was published in Antimicrob Agents Chemother
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics