Mutations in Acrr and RNA Polymerase Confer High-Level Resistance to Psoralen-Uva Irradiation.

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Journal of Bacteriology

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DNA interstrand cross-links, such as those formed by psoralen-UVA irradiation, are highly toxic lesions in both humans and bacteria, with a single lesion being lethal in Escherichia coli. Despite the lack of effective repair, human cancers and bacteria can develop resistance to cross-linking treatments, although the mechanisms of resistance remain poorly defined. Here, we subjected E. coli to repeated psoralen-UVA exposure to isolate three independently derived strains that were >10,000-fold more resistant to this treatment than the parental strain. Analysis of these strains identified gain-of-function mutations in the transcriptional regulator AcrR and the alpha subunit of RNA polymerase that together could account for the resistance of these strains. Resistance conferred by the AcrR mutation is mediated at least in part through the regulation of the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump. Resistance via mutations in the alpha subunit of RNA polymerase occurs through a still-uncharacterized mechanism that has an additive effect with mutations in AcrR. Both acrR and rpoA mutations reduced cross-link formation in vivo. We discuss potential mechanisms in relation to the ability to repair and survive interstrand DNA cross-links. IMPORTANCE Psoralen DNA interstrand cross-links are highly toxic lesions with antimicrobial and anticancer properties. Despite the lack of effective mechanisms for repair, cells can become resistant to cross-linking agents through mechanisms that remain poorly defined. We derived resistant mutants and identified that two gain-of-function mutations in AcrR and the alpha subunit of RNA polymerase confer high levels of resistance to E. coli treated with psoralen-UVA. Resistance conferred by AcrR mutations occurs through regulation of the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump, has an additive effect with RNA polymerase mutations, acts by reducing the formation of cross-links in vivo, and reveals a novel mechanism by which these environmentally and clinically important agents are processed by the cell.


© 2023 American Society for Microbiology



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American Society for Microbiology