The role of supercoiling in altering chromosome structure, gene expression and antibiotic resistance in bacteria

Redgrave, Liam Stephen (2017). The role of supercoiling in altering chromosome structure, gene expression and antibiotic resistance in bacteria. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Antibiotic resistance is a major problem estimated to cost $100 trillion and cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050. Despite novel molecules targeting Gram-positive bacteria, there are no new antibiotics active against Gram-negatives. To prolong use of current drugs, we need to understand mechanisms of resistance to inform prescribing practices and drug discovery. Quinolone resistance is primarily conferred by mutations in the target loci: DNA gyrase (gyrA) and topoisomerase IV. Quinolone resistance arising from gyrA mutations has also been shown to confer a low level of protection against a range of non-quinolone drugs. This thesis investigated the hypotheses that altered supercoiling levels, resulting from gyrA mutations, alter expression of stress response genes and confer a generic protective effect against other antibiotics and chemicals. The effects of equivalent gyrA mutations in Salmonella and E. coli upon supercoiling were analysed. Both GyrA Ser83Phe and GyrA Asp87Gly substitutions resulted in altered topoisomer profiles, although these were different between the species. When exposed to stresses, Salmonella gyrA mutants maintain supercoiling in a relatively fixed manner, providing a degree of antimicrobial protection but possibly limiting flexibility in response to environmental change. Fluorescent reporter assays showed a modest elevation of stress responses in Salmonella GyrA Asp87Gly cells, but highly upregulated stress responses in E. coli GyrA Asp87Gly cells. This correlated with a competitive fitness benefit of E. coli GyrA Asp87Gly cells vs the parent in the presence of low levels of triclosan. The elevated stress responses likely result from supercoiling-induced changes in promoter accessibility, and are probably responsible for the generic protective effect gyrA mutation confers against other chemicals and antibiotics. Non-quinolone antimicrobials can provide a selective pressure that favours gyrA mutants, although this is highly dependent on condition and species.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Medical & Dental Sciences
School or Department: Institute of Microbiology and Infection
Funders: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine


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