Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 31009454
PLoS Genet. 2019 Apr;15(4):e1008078
Phenotypic resistance describes a bacterial population that becomes transiently resistant to an antibiotic without requiring a genetic change. We here investigated the role of the small regulatory RNA (sRNA) RyhB, a key contributor to iron homeostasis, in the phenotypic resistance of Escherichia coli to various classes of antibiotics. We found that RyhB induces phenotypic resistance to gentamicin, an aminoglycoside that targets the ribosome, when iron is scarce. RyhB induced resistance is due to the inhibition of respiratory complexes Nuo and Sdh activities. These complexes, which contain numerous Fe-S clusters, are crucial for generating a proton motive force (pmf) that allows gentamicin uptake. RyhB regulates negatively the expression of nuo and sdh, presumably by binding to their mRNAs and, as a consequence, inhibiting their translation. We further show that Isc Fe-S biogenesis machinery is essential for the maturation of Nuo. As RyhB also limits levels of the Isc machinery, we propose that RyhB may also indirectly impact the maturation of Nuo and Sdh. Notably, our study shows that respiratory complexes activity levels are predictive of the bacterial sensitivity to gentamicin. Altogether, these results unveil a new role for RyhB in the adaptation to antibiotic stress, an unprecedented consequence of its role in iron starvation stress response.