METHODS: Regulators were overproduced using a pBAD expression vector. Antibiotic susceptibility was measured using disc testing. Envelope permeability was estimated using a fluorescent dye accumulation assay. Porin and efflux pump production was quantified using proteomics and validated using real-time quantitative RT-PCR.
RESULTS: Envelope permeability and antibiotic disc inhibition zone diameters both reduced during overproduction of RamA and to a lesser extent RarA or SoxS, but did not change following overproduction of MarA. These effects were associated with overproduction of the efflux pumps AcrAB (for RamA and SoxS) and OqxAB (for RamA and RarA) and the outer membrane protein TolC (for all regulators). Effects on porin production were strain specific.
CONCLUSIONS: RamA is the most potent regulator of antibiotic permeability in K. pneumoniae, followed by RarA then SoxS, with MarA having very little effect. This observed relative potency correlates well with the frequency at which these regulators are reportedly overproduced in clinical isolates.