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Aminoglycoside antibiotics are powerful bactericidal therapeutics that are often used in the treatment of critical Gram-negative systemic infections. The emergence and global spread of antibiotic resistance, however, has compromised the clinical utility of aminoglycosides to an extent similar to that found for all other antibiotic-drug classes. Apramycin, a drug candidate currently in clinical development, was suggested as a next-generation aminoglycoside antibiotic with minimal cross-resistance to all other standard-of-care aminoglycosides. Here, we analyzed 591,140 pathogen genomes deposited in the NCBI National Database of Antibiotic Resistant Organisms (NDARO) for annotations of apramycin-resistance genes, and compared them to the genotypic prevalence of carbapenem resistance and 16S-rRNA methyltransferase (RMTase) genes. The 3-N-acetyltransferase gene aac(3)-IV was found to be the only apramycin-resistance gene of clinical relevance, at an average prevalence of 0.7%, which was four-fold lower than that of RMTase genes. In the important subpopulation of carbapenemase-positive isolates, aac(3)-IV was nine-fold less prevalent than RMTase genes. The phenotypic profiling of selected clinical isolates and recombinant strains expressing the aac(3)-IV gene confirmed resistance to not only apramycin, but also gentamicin, tobramycin, and paromomycin. Probing the structure-activity relationship of such substrate promiscuity by site-directed mutagenesis of the aminoglycoside-binding pocket in the acetyltransferase AAC(3)-IV revealed the molecular contacts to His124, Glu185, and Asp187 to be equally critical in binding to apramycin and gentamicin, whereas Asp67 was found to be a discriminating contact. Our findings suggest that aminoglycoside cross-resistance to apramycin in clinical isolates is limited to the substrate promiscuity of a single gene, rendering apramycin best-in-class for the coverage of carbapenem- and aminoglycoside-resistant bacterial infections.


Michel Plattner, Marina Gysin, Klara Haldimann, Katja Becker, Sven N Hobbie. Epidemiologic, Phenotypic, and Structural Characterization of Aminoglycoside-Resistance Gene aac(3)-IV. International journal of molecular sciences. 2020 Aug 25;21(17)

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PMID: 32854436

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