The landscape of intrinsic and evolved fluoroquinolone resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii includes suppression of drug-induced prophage replication
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The emergence of fluoroquinolone resistance in nosocomial pathogens has restricted the clinical efficacy of this antibiotic class. In Acinetobacter baumannii, the majority of clinical isolates now show high level resistance due to mutations in gyrA (DNA gyrase) and parC (Topo IV). To investigate the molecular basis for fluoroquinolone resistance, an exhaustive mutation analysis was performed in both drug sensitive and resistant strains to identify loci that alter the sensitivity of the organism to ciprofloxacin. To this end, parallel fitness tests of over 60,000 unique insertion mutations were performed in strains with various alleles in genes encoding the drug targets. The spectrum of mutations that altered drug sensitivity was found to be similar in the drug sensitive and double mutant gyrAparC background having resistance alleles in both genes. In contrast, introduction of a single gyrA resistance allele, resulting in preferential poisoning of Topo IV by ciprofloxacin, led to extreme alterations in the insertion mutation fitness landscape. The distinguishing feature of preferential Topo IV poisoning was induction of DNA synthesis in the region of two endogenous prophages, which appeared to occur in situ. Induction of the selective DNA synthesis in the gyrA background was also linked to enhanced activation of SOS response and heightened transcription of prophage genes relative to that observed in either the WT or gyrAparC double mutants. Therefore, the accumulation of mutations that result in the stepwise evolution of high ciprofloxacin resistance is tightly connected to suppression of hyperactivation of the SOS response and endogenous prophage DNA synthesis.