Exploring antimicrobial resistance to beta-lactams, aminoglycosides and fluoroquinolones in E. coli and K. pneumoniae using proteogenomics

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Antimicrobial resistance is mostly studied by means of phenotypic growth inhibition determinations, in combination with PCR confirmations or further characterization by means of whole genome sequencing (WGS). However, the actual proteins that cause resistance such as enzymes and a lack of porins cannot be detected by these methods. Improvements in liquid chromatography (LC) and mass spectrometry (MS) enabled easier and more comprehensive proteome analysis. In the current study, susceptibility testing, WGS and MS are combined into a multi-omics approach to analyze resistance against frequently used antibiotics within the beta-lactam, aminoglycoside and fluoroquinolone group in E. coli and K. pneumoniae. Our aim was to study which currently known mechanisms of resistance can be detected at the protein level using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) and to assess whether these could explain beta-lactam, aminoglycoside, and fluoroquinolone resistance in the studied isolates. Furthermore, we aimed to identify significant protein to resistance correlations which have not yet been described before and to correlate the abundance of different porins in relation to resistance to different classes of antibiotics. Whole genome sequencing, high-resolution LC–MS/MS and antimicrobial susceptibility testing by broth microdilution were performed for 187 clinical E. coli and K. pneumoniae isolates. Resistance genes and proteins were identified using the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database (CARD). All proteins were annotated using the NCBI RefSeq database and Prokka. Proteins of small spectrum beta-lactamases, extended spectrum beta-lactamases, AmpC beta-lactamases, carbapenemases, and proteins of 16S ribosomal RNA methyltransferases and aminoglycoside acetyltransferases can be detected in E. coli and K. pneumoniae by LC–MS/MS. The detected mechanisms matched with the phenotype in the majority of isolates. Differences in the abundance and the primary structure of other proteins such as porins also correlated with resistance. LC–MS/MS is a different and complementary method which can be used to characterize antimicrobial resistance in detail as not only the primary resistance causing mechanisms are detected, but also secondary enhancing resistance mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12472
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by both the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the European Union through Horizon 2020 by means of a Eurostars grant (project number 11873).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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