The putative drug efflux systems of the Bacillus cereus group

Karl A. Hassan, Annette Fagerlund, Liam D. H. Elbourne, Aniko Vörös, Jasmin K. Kroeger, Roger Simm, Nicolas J. Tourasse, Sarah Finke, Peter J. F. Henderson, Ole Andreas Økstad, Ian T. Paulsen, Anne-Brit Kolstø

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    The Bacillus cereus group of bacteria includes seven closely related species, three of which, B. anthracis, B. cereus and B. thuringiensis, are pathogens of humans, animals and/or insects. Preliminary investigations into the transport capabilities of different bacterial lineages suggested that genes encoding putative efflux systems were unusually abundant in the B. cereus group compared to other bacteria. To explore the drug efflux potential of the B. cereus group all putative efflux systems were identified in the genomes of prototypical strains of B. cereus, B. anthracis and B. thuringiensis using our Transporter Automated Annotation Pipeline. More than 90 putative drug efflux systems were found within each of these strains, accounting for up to 2.7% of their protein coding potential. Comparative analyses demonstrated that the efflux systems are highly conserved between these species; 70-80% of the putative efflux pumps were shared between all three strains studied. Furthermore, 82% of the putative efflux system proteins encoded by the prototypical B. cereus strain ATCC 14579 (type strain) were found to be conserved in at least 80% of 169 B. cereus group strains that have high quality genome sequences available. However, only a handful of these efflux pumps have been functionally characterized. Deletion of individual efflux pump genes from B. cereus typically had little impact to drug resistance phenotypes or the general fitness of the strains, possibly because of the large numbers of alternative efflux systems that may have overlapping substrate specificities. Therefore, to gain insight into the possible transport functions of efflux systems in B. cereus, we undertook large-scale qRT-PCR analyses of efflux pump gene expression following drug shocks and other stress treatments. Clustering of gene expression changes identified several groups of similarly regulated systems that may have overlapping drug resistance functions. In this article we review current knowledge of the small molecule efflux pumps encoded by the B. cereus group and suggest the likely functions of numerous uncharacterised pumps.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0176188
    Pages (from-to)1-25
    Number of pages25
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017

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    Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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