Dual Effect: High NADH Levels Contribute to Efflux-Mediated Antibiotic Resistance but Drive Lethality Mediated by Reactive Oxygen Species

Alejandro Arce-Rodríguez, Debbie Pankratz, Matthias Preusse, Pablo I Nikel, Susanne Häussler*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde
12 Citationer (Scopus)


In light of the antibiotic crisis, emerging strategies to sensitize bacteria to available antibiotics should be explored. Several studies on the mechanisms of killing suggest that bactericidal antibiotic activity is enforced through the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS-lethality hypothesis). Here, we artificially manipulated the redox homeostasis of the model opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa using specific enzymes that catalyze either the formation or oxidation of NADH. Increased NADH levels led to the activation of antibiotic efflux pumps and high levels of antibiotic resistance. However, higher NADH levels also resulted in increased intracellular ROS and amplified antibiotic killing. Our results demonstrate that growth inhibition and killing activity are mediated via different mechanisms. Furthermore, the profound changes in bioenergetics produced low-virulence phenotypes characterized by reduced interbacterial signaling controlled pathogenicity traits. Our results pave the way for a more effective infection resolution and add an antivirulence strategy to maximize chances to combat devastating P. aeruginosa infections while reducing the overall use of antibiotics. IMPORTANCE The emergence of antibiotic resistance has become one of the major threats to public health. A better understanding of antimicrobial killing mechanisms promises to uncover new ways to resensitize bacteria to commonly used antibiotics. In this context, there is increasing evidence that the metabolic status of the cell plays a fundamental role in reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated cell death. In this work, we artificially manipulated the redox balance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa by the expression of two orthologous enzymes. We found that the increase of intracellular NADH concentrations leads to higher antibiotic resistance but also generates a burst in the production of ROS that amplified antimicrobial killing. Our work suggests that the combination of bactericidal antibiotics with agents that disturb the cellular redox homeostasis could significantly enhance antibiotic killing via sensitization of pathogens to currently available antibiotics.

Udgave nummer1
Antal sider18
StatusUdgivet - 2022


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