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Inhibiting the Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance

Ragheb, Mark N., Thomason, Maureen K., Hsu, Chris, Nugent, Patrick, Gage, John, Samadpour, Ariana N., Kariisa, Ankunda, Merrikh, Christopher N., Miller, Samuel I., Sherman, David R., Merrikh, Houra
Molecular cell 2019 v.73 no.1 pp. 157-165.e5
DNA, DNA repair, DNA-directed RNA polymerase, alleles, antibiotic resistance, antibiotics, evolution, mutagenesis, new drugs, trimethoprim
Efforts to battle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are generally focused on developing novel antibiotics. However, history shows that resistance arises regardless of the nature or potency of new drugs. Here, we propose and provide evidence for an alternate strategy to resolve this problem: inhibiting evolution. We determined that the DNA translocase Mfd is an “evolvability factor” that promotes mutagenesis and is required for rapid resistance development to all antibiotics tested across highly divergent bacterial species. Importantly, hypermutator alleles that accelerate AMR development did not arise without Mfd, at least during evolution of trimethoprim resistance. We also show that Mfd’s role in AMR development depends on its interactions with the RNA polymerase subunit RpoB and the nucleotide excision repair protein UvrA. Our findings suggest that AMR development can be inhibited through inactivation of evolvability factors (potentially with “anti-evolution” drugs)—in particular, Mfd—providing an unexplored route toward battling the AMR crisis.