A screen for agents that potentiated the activity of paromomycin (PAR), a 4,5-linked aminoglycoside (AG), against wild-type
Pseudomonas aeruginosaidentified the RNA polymerase inhibitor rifampin (RIF). RIF potentiated additional 4,5-linked AGs, such as neomycin and ribostamycin, but not the clinically important 4,6-linked AGs amikacin and gentamicin. Potentiation was absent in a mutant lacking the AmgRS envelope stress response two-component system (TCS), which protects the organism from AG-generated membrane-damaging aberrant polypeptides and, thus, promotes AG resistance, an indication that RIF was acting via this TCS in potentiating 4,5-linked AG activity. Potentiation was also absent in a RIF-resistant RNA polymerase mutant, consistent with its potentiation of AG activity being dependent on RNA polymerase perturbation. PAR-inducible expression of the AmgRS-dependent genes htpXand yccAwas reduced by RIF, suggesting that AG activation of this TCS was compromised by this agent. Still, RIF did not compromise the membrane-protective activity of AmgRS, an indication that it impacted some other function of this TCS. RIF potentiated the activities of 4,5-linked AGs against several AG-resistant clinical isolates, in two cases also potentiating the activity of the 4,6-linked AGs. These cases were, in one instance, explained by an observed AmgRS-dependent expression of the MexXY multidrug efflux system, which accommodates a range of AGs, with RIF targeting of AmgRS undermining mexXYexpression and its promotion of resistance to 4,5- and 4,6-linked AGs. Given this link between AmgRS, MexXY expression, and pan-AG resistance in P. aeruginosa, RIF might be a useful adjuvant in the AG treatment of P. aeruginosainfections.