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Azithromycin inhibits expression of the GacA-dependent small RNAs RsmY and RsmZ in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
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Azithromycin at clinically relevant doses does not inhibit planktonic growth of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa but causes markedly reduced formation of biofilms and quorum-sensing-regulated extracellular virulence factors. In the Gac/Rsm signal transduction pathway, which acts upstream of the quorum-sensing machinery in P. aeruginosa, the GacA-dependent untranslated small RNAs RsmY and RsmZ are key regulatory elements. As azithromycin treatment and mutational inactivation of gacA have strikingly similar phenotypic consequences, the effect of azithromycin on rsmY and rsmZ expression was investigated. In planktonically growing cells, the antibiotic strongly inhibited the expression of both small RNA genes but did not affect the expression of the housekeeping gene proC. The azithromycin treatment resulted in reduced expression of gacA and rsmA, which are known positive regulators of rsmY and rsmZ, and of the PA0588-PA0584 gene cluster, which was discovered as a novel positive regulatory element involved in rsmY and rsmZ expression. Deletion of this cluster resulted in diminished ability of P. aeruginosa to produce pyocyanin and to swarm. The results of this study indicate that azithromycin inhibits rsmY and rsmZ transcription indirectly by lowering the expression of positive regulators of these small RNA genes.
Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology, Azithromycin/pharmacology, Bacterial Proteins/genetics, Bacterial Proteins/metabolism, Blotting, Northern, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial/drug effects, Pseudomonas aeruginosa/drug effects, Pseudomonas aeruginosa/genetics
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