Thymidine-Dependent Staphylococcus aureus Small-Colony Variants Are Induced by Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole (SXT) and Have Increased Fitness during SXT Challenge.Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2015 Dec; 59(12):7265-72.AA
Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (SXT) is a possible alternative for the treatment of community- and hospital-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) due to the susceptibility of most MRSA strains to the drug. However, after long-term treatment with SXT, thymidine-dependent (TD) SXT-resistant small-colony variants (SCVs) emerge. In TD-SCVs, mutations of thymidylate synthase ([TS] thyA) occur. Until now, it has never been systematically investigated that SXT is triggering the induction and/or selection of TD-SCVs. In our study, we performed induction, reversion, and competition experiments in vitro and in vivo using a chronic mouse pneumonia model to determine the impact of SXT on the emergence of TD-SCVs. SCVs were characterized by light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and auxotrophism testing. Short-term exposure of S. aureus to SXT induced the TD-SCV phenotype in S. aureus SH1000, while selection of TD-SCVs with thyA mutations occurred after long-term exposure. In reversion experiments with clinical and laboratory TD-SCVs, all revertants carried compensating mutations at the initially identified mutation site. Competition experiments in vitro and in vivo revealed a survival and growth advantage of the ΔthyA mutant under low-thymidine availability and SXT exposure although this advantage was less profound in vivo. Our results show that SXT induces the TD-SCV phenotype after short-term exposure, while long-term exposure selects for thyA mutations, which provide an advantage for TD-SCVs under specified conditions. Thus, our results further an understanding of the dynamic processes occurring during SXT exposure with induction and selection of S. aureus TD-SCVs.