Complex regulation of BpeEF-OprC mediated drug efflux in Burkholderia pseudomallei

Rhodes, Katherine, author
Belisle, John, advisor
Schweizer, Herbert, advisor
Dow, Steven, committee member
Stargell, Laurie, committee member
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Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp) is a Gram-negative bacillus and the etiologic agent of melioidosis, a multifaceted syndrome causing high mortality in tropical regions of the world. The bacteria is classified as a Tier-1 Select Agent due to the seriousness of infection, low infectious dose, lack of effective vaccine, and difficulty of treatment. Bp’s many acquired and intrinsic antimicrobial resistance determinants make the study of these factors vital to improving the efficacy of bi-phasic treatment currently used to treat melioidosis. This study examines one factor in particular: the BpeEF-OprC efflux pump, a member of the resistance-nodulation and cell division family of efflux proteins, and capable of extruding both trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole. A combination of these compounds (co-trimoxazole) is the first line of eradication phase therapy, making BpeEF-OprC the most clinically important efflux pump encoded by Bp. In spite of this, little is understood of the regulation of bpeEF-oprC, other than it is controlled in part by two LysR family proteins, BpeS, and BpeT. We hypothesized that these regulatory proteins 1) exert their action(s) by interacting with bpeEF-oprC at a specific site within the bpeT-llpE-bpeEF-oprC intergenic region, 2) are capable of influencing transcription of additional operons, and 3) that mutations to these proteins altered ability to form multimers, thereby influencing their function as observed by increased co-trimoxazole resistance and bpeF transcript levels. In Aim I of the study, we identified the cis regulatory regions by which these proteins interact within the bpeT-llpE-bpeE intergenic region using a combination of 5’ deletion assays, S1 nuclease protection, fluorescent-linked oligo extension and electrophoretic mobility assays. With this information we were able to locate bpeT transcriptional start sites and promoter regions as well as binding sites for both BpeT and BpeS. In Aim II, we examined the function of BpeT and BpeS as trans regulatory factors of BpeEF-OprC through mutation and deletion of both genes in part I, and as global regulatory factors in part II. Through overexpression and qRT-PCR or MIC analysis of wild type and mutant forms of both genes, we observed that while BpeT is a direct transcriptional activator of bpeEF-oprC, BpeS is not. Additionally, mutation position in BpeS seems to play a role in the expression phenotype of bpeEF-oprC. However, these mutations do not influence the ability of BpeS or BpeT to form multimers, as we observed no change between wild type and mutant protein oligomer formation through low-pressure gel chromatography and native gel electrophoresis. These same mutations also appeared to have no deleterious effect on the ability of the protein to bind their consensus region within the IR. Additionally, the loss of both genes did not interrupt the ability of bpeEF-oprC to be induced by substrates of BpeEF-OprC, suggesting an additional regulatory factor is at play. In Part II, RNA sequencing analysis and confirmation of select transcriptionally altered operons by RT-qPCR revealed that BpeS might influence expression of the Bsa Type 3 Secretion System (T3SS), while BpeT seems only to target bpeEF-oprC. This may have implication in the pathogenesis of Bp, and must be confirmed in in-vivo cell models using Select Agent excluded strain Bp82 in order to solidify the link between efflux and T3SS during infection. Ultimately, more work is needed to identify the missing regulatory factors in play during expression of bpeEF-oprC, understand how mutations to BpeT and BpeS alter their function, and confirm the relevance of a putative link between co-regulation of efflux and virulence during Bp infection.
2016 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
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