Plasmid-borne colistin resistance mediated by
mcr-1may contribute to the dissemination of pan-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Here, we show that mcr-1confers resistance to colistin-induced lysis and bacterial cell death, but provides minimal protection from the ability of colistin to disrupt the Gram-negative outer membrane. Indeed, for colistin-resistant strains of Enterobacteriaceae expressing plasmid-borne mcr-1, clinically relevant concentrations of colistin potentiate the action of antibiotics that, by themselves, are not active against Gram-negative bacteria. The result is that several antibiotics, in combination with colistin, display growth-inhibition at levels below their corresponding clinical breakpoints. Furthermore, colistin and clarithromycin combination therapy displays efficacy against mcr-1-positive Klebsiella pneumoniaein murine thigh and bacteremia infection models at clinically relevant doses. Altogether, these data suggest that the use of colistin in combination with antibiotics that are typically active against Gram-positive bacteria poses a viable therapeutic alternative for highly drug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens expressing mcr-1.