Evolutionary trajectory of the Tet(X) family: Critical residue changes towards high-level tigecycline resistance

Chao Yue Cui, Qian He, Qiu Lin Jia, Cang Li, Chong Chen, Xiao Ting Wu, Xiao Jing Zhang, Zhuo Yu Lin, Zi Jian Zheng, Xiao Ping Liao, Barry N. Kreiswirth, Ya Hong Liu, Liang Chen, Jian Sun

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8 Scopus citations


The emergence of the plasmid-mediated high-level tigecycline resistance mechanism Tet(X) threatens the role of tigecycline as the “last-resort” antibiotic in the treatment of infections caused by carbapenem-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Compared with that of the prototypical Tet(X), the enzymatic activities of Tet(X3) and Tet(X4) were significantly enhanced, correlating with high-level tigecycline resistance, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we probed the key amino acid changes leading to the enhancement of Tet(X) function and clarified the structural characteristics and evolutionary path of Tet(X) based upon the key residue changes. Through domain exchange and site-directed mutagenesis experiments, we successfully identified five candidate residues mutations (L282S, A339T, D340N, V350I, and K351E), involved in Tet(X2) activity enhancement. Importantly, these 5 residue changes were 100% conserved among all reported high-activity Tet(X) orthologs, Tet(X3) to Tet(X7), suggesting the important role of these residue changes in the molecular evolution of Tet(X). Structural analysis suggested that the mutant residues did not directly participate in the substrate and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) recognition or binding, but indirectly altered the conformational dynamics of the enzyme through the interaction with adjacent residues. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) and UV full-wavelength scanning experiments confirmed that each mutation led to an increase in activity without changing the biochemical properties of the Tet(X) enzyme. Further phylogenetic analysis suggested that Riemerella anatipestifer served as an important incubator and a main bridge vector for the resistance enhancement and spread of Tet(X). This study expands the knowledge of the structure and function of Tet(X) and provides insights into the evolutionary relationship between Tet(X) orthologs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00050-21
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


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