Scientist uncovers roots of antibiotic resistance

1 / 1 Comparative visualization of domains within OmpU associated with bile resistant phenotypes. (A). Multiple sequence alignment of ompU alleles resistant and sensitive to whole bile. Conserved residues are indicated by dots and those absent are indicated by gray boxes. (B-E) Comparative architecture of OmpU domains associated with the bile resistant phenotype. Domains are color coded and visualized in OmpU N16961 and GBE1114. Top and slabbed view of (B, C) N16961 and (D, E) GBE1114, respectively. The identified domains are colored as follows: NTC (purple), L3R (orange), L4 (blue) and VAS (green). Credit:  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1010490

Bacteria naturally adapt to various environmental stimuli and as they mutate, these changes can make them resistant to drugs that would kill or slow their growth.

In a recent article published in PLoS Genetics, UCF College of Medicine microbiologist Dr. Salvador Almagro-Moreno uncovers the evolutionary origins of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria. His studies on the bacterium that causes cholera, Vibrio cholerae, provide insight into deciphering what conditions must occur for infectious agents to become resistant.

“How AMR occurs in bacterial populations and the pathways leading to these new traits are still poorly understood,” he said. “This poses a major public health threat as antimicrobial resistance is on the rise.”

Dr. Almagro-Moreno studied genetic variants of a protein found in bacterial membranes called OmpU. Using computational and molecular approaches, his team found that several OmpU mutations in the cholera bacteria led to resistance to numerous antimicrobial agents.

By Suhtling Wong, University of Central Florida

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