Safi H, Lingaraju S, Amin A, Kim S, Jones M, Holmes M, McNeil M, Peterson SN, Chatterjee D, Fleischmann R, Alland D
Evolution of High-level Ethambutol-resistant tuberculosis Through Interacting Mutations in Decaprenylphosphoryl-β-D-arabinose Biosynthetic and Utilization Pathway Genes.
Nature Genetics. 2013 Oct 01; 45: 1190-7.
To study the evolution of drug resistance, we genetically and biochemically characterized Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains selected in vitro for ethambutol resistance. Mutations in decaprenylphosphoryl-β-D-arabinose (DPA) biosynthetic and utilization pathway genes Rv3806c, Rv3792, embB and embC accumulated to produce a wide range of ethambutol minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) that depended on mutation type and number. Rv3806c mutations increased DPA synthesis, causing MICs to double from 2 to 4 μg/ml in a wild-type background and to increase from 16 to 32 μg/ml in an embB codon 306 mutant background. Synonymous mutations in Rv3792 increased the expression of downstream embC, an ethambutol target, resulting in MICs of 8 μg/ml. Multistep selection was required for high-level resistance. Mutations in embC or very high embC expression were observed at the highest resistance level. In clinical isolates, Rv3806c mutations were associated with high-level resistance and had multiplicative effects with embB mutations on MICs. Ethambutol resistance is acquired through the acquisition of mutations that interact in complex ways to produce a range of MICs, from those falling below breakpoint values to ones representing high-level resistance.