Genes Contributing to the Unique Biology and Intrinsic Antibiotic Resistance of Enterococcus faecalis


Gilmore MS, Salamzade R, Selleck E, Bryan N, Mello SS, Manson AL, Earl AM. Genes Contributing to the Unique Biology and Intrinsic Antibiotic Resistance of Enterococcus faecalis. mBio 2020;11(6)

Date Published:

2020 Nov 24


The enterococci, which are among the leading causes of multidrug-resistant (MDR) hospital infection, are notable for their environmental ruggedness, which extends to intrinsic antibiotic resistance. To identify genes that confer this unique property, we used Tn-seq to comprehensively explore the genome of MDR strain MMH594 for genes important for growth in nutrient-containing medium and with low-level antibiotic challenge. As expected, a large core of genes for DNA replication, expression, and central metabolism, shared with other bacteria, are intolerant to transposon disruption. However, genes were identified that are important to that are either absent from or unimportant for and fitness when similarly tested. Further, 217 genes were identified that when challenged by sub-MIC antibiotic levels exhibited reduced tolerance to transposon disruption, including those previously shown to contribute to intrinsic resistance, and others not previously ascribed this role. is one of the few Gram-positive bacteria experimentally shown to possess a functional Entner-Doudoroff pathway for carbon metabolism, a pathway that contributes to stress tolerance in other microbes. Through functional genomics and network analysis we defined the unusual structure of this pathway in and assessed its importance. These approaches also identified toxin-antitoxin and related systems that are unique and active in Finally, we identified genes that are absent in the closest nonenterococcal relatives, the vagococci, and that contribute importantly to fitness with and without antibiotic selection, advancing an understanding of the unique biology of enterococci. Enterococci are leading causes of antibiotic-resistant infection transmitted in hospitals. The intrinsic hardiness of these organisms allows them to survive disinfection practices and then proliferate in the gastrointestinal tracts of antibiotic-treated patients. The objective of this study was to identify the underlying genetic basis for its unusual hardiness. Using a functional genomic approach, we identified traits and pathways of general importance for enterococcal survival and growth that distinguish them from closely related pathogens as well as ancestrally related species. We further identified unique traits that enable them to survive antibiotic challenge, revealing a large set of genes that contribute to intrinsic antibiotic resistance and a smaller set of uniquely important genes that are rare outside enterococci.

Last updated on 11/30/2020