PerspectiveMicrobiology

The genetic underground of antibiotic resistance

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Science  19 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6531, pp. 783-784
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf7922

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Summary

Metabolism has mostly been studied for its role in providing building blocks and energy to sustain cell duplication. Previously unexplored roles of metabolism in signaling and regulation have now been unveiled. Mounting evidence suggests a fundamental role of microbial metabolism in mediating the short-term (1, 2) and long-term responses to antimicrobial agents (3), opening possibilities for combination therapies that could hamper the evolution of antibiotic resistance (46). Given their impact on bacterial growth, indirect effects of antibiotic treatment on metabolism were to be expected. But there are also common and drug-specific metabolic changes that are independent from growth inhibition and can play an important role in antibiotic lethality (1, 5, 6). If metabolism plays a key role in mediating antibiotic response and drug toxicity, does metabolism have a role in antibiotic resistance? On page 799 of this issue, Lopatkin et al. (7) reveal the interplay between metabolism and antibiotic resistance in clinically relevant pathogens.

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