A Klebsiella pneumoniae DedA family membrane protein is required for colistin resistance and for virulence in wax moth larvae

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Ineffectiveness of carbapenems against multidrug resistant pathogens led to the increased use of colistin (polymyxin E) as a last resort antibiotic. A gene belonging to the DedA family encoding conserved membrane proteins was previously identified by screening a transposon library of K. pneumoniae ST258 for sensitivity to colistin. We have renamed this gene dkcA (dedA of Klebsiella required for colistin resistance). DedA family proteins are likely membrane transporters required for viability of Escherichia coli and Burkholderia spp. at alkaline pH and for resistance to colistin in a number of bacterial species. Colistin resistance is often conferred via modification of the lipid A component of bacterial lipopolysaccharide with aminoarabinose (Ara4N) and/or phosphoethanolamine. Mass spectrometry analysis of lipid A of the ∆dkcA mutant shows a near absence of Ara4N in the lipid A, suggesting a requirement for DkcA for lipid A modification with Ara4N. Mutation of K. pneumoniae dkcA resulted in a reduction of the colistin minimal inhibitory concentration to approximately what is found with a ΔarnT strain. We also identify a requirement of DkcA for colistin resistance that is independent of lipid A modification, instead requiring maintenance of optimal membrane potential. K. pneumoniae ΔdkcA displays reduced virulence in Galleria mellonella suggesting colistin sensitivity can cause loss of virulence.

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Scientific reports

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