Systems-level analysis of NalD mutation, a recurrent driver of rapid drug resistance in acute Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection
PLoS Computational Biology
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a main cause of human infection, can gain resistance to the antibiotic aztreonam through a mutation in NalD, a transcriptional repressor of cellular efflux. Here we combine computational analysis of clinical isolates, transcriptomics, metabolic modeling and experimental validation to find a strong association between NalD mutations and resistance to aztreonam—as well as resistance to other antibiotics—across P. aeruginosa isolated from different patients. A detailed analysis of one patient’s timeline shows how this mutation can emerge in vivo and drive rapid evolution of resistance while the patient received cancer treatment, a bone marrow transplantation, and antibiotics up to the point of causing the patient’s death. Transcriptomics analysis confirmed the primary mechanism of NalD action—a loss-of-function mutation that caused constitutive overexpression of the MexAB-OprM efflux system—which lead to aztreonam resistance but, surprisingly, had no fitness cost in the absence of the antibiotic. We constrained a genome-scale metabolic model using the transcriptomics data to investigate changes beyond the primary mechanism of resistance, including adaptations in major metabolic pathways and membrane transport concurrent with aztreonam resistance, which may explain the lack of a fitness cost. We propose that metabolic adaptations may allow resistance mutations to endure in the absence of antibiotics and could be targeted by future therapies against antibiotic resistant pathogens.
Yan, J., Estanbouli, H., Liao, C., Kim, W., Monk, J., Rahman, R., Kamboj, M., Palsson, B., Qiu, W., & Xavier, J. (2019). Systems-level analysis of NalD mutation, a recurrent driver of rapid drug resistance in acute Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. PLoS Computational Biology, 15 (12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007562