Phylogenetic and functional characterisation of the Haemophilus influenzae multidrug efflux pump AcrB.Commun Biol 2019; 2:340CB
Multidrug resistance in Gram-negative bacteria can arise by the over-expression of multidrug efflux pumps, which can extrude a wide range of antibiotics. Here we describe the ancestral Haemophilus influenzae efflux pump AcrB (AcrB-Hi). We performed a phylogenetic analysis of hundreds of RND-type transporters. We found that AcrB-Hi is a relatively ancient efflux pump, which nonetheless can export the same range of antibiotics as its evolved colleague from Escherichia coli. AcrB-Hi was not inhibited by the efflux pump inhibitor ABI-PP, and could export bile salts weakly. This points to an environmental adaptation of RND transporters. We also explain the sensitivity of H. influenzae cells to β-lactams and novobiocin by the outer membrane porin OmpP2. This porin counterbalances the AcrB-Hi efflux by leaking the drugs back into the cells. We hypothesise that multidrug recognition by RND-type pumps is not an evolutionarily acquired ability, and has been present since ancient promiscuous transporters.