King's College London

Research portal

Rifampin or capreomycin induced remodelling of the Mycobacterium smegmatis mycolic acid layer is mitigated in synergistic combinations with cationic antimicrobial peptides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DeDe Kwun-Wai Man, Tokuwa Kanno, Giorgia Manzo, Brian Robertson, Jenny K. W. Lam, A. James Mason

Original languageEnglish
Article number e00218-18
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2018


King's Authors


The mycobacterial cell wall affords natural resistance to antibiotics. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) modify the surface properties of mycobacteria and can act synergistically with antibiotics from differing classes. Here we investigate the response of Mycobacterium smegmatis to the presence of rifampin or capreomycin, either alone or in combination with two synthetic, cationic, α-helical AMPs; distinguished by the presence (D-LAK120-HP13) or absence (D-LAK120-A) of a kink-inducing proline. Using a combination of high-resolution magic angle spinning (HR-MAS) NMR of bacteria, diphenylhexatriene (DPH) fluorescence anisotropy and laurdan emission spectroscopy we show that M. smegmatis responds to challenge with rifampin or capreomycin by substantially altering its metabolism and, in particular, by remodelling the cell envelope. In NMR spectra of bacteria, reductions in intensity for mycolic acid lipid -(CH2)-, -CH3, R2CH-COOH, R2CH-OH and also -CH2-, (CH=CH)- and -CH=CH- resonances were observed following challenge with rifampicin and capreomycin, while the latter also caused an increase in trehalose. These changes are consistent with a reduction of trehalose dimycolate and increase of trehalose monomycolate and are associated with an increase in rigidity of the mycolic acid layer observed following challenge by capreomycin but not rifampin. Challenge with D-LAK120-A or D-LAK120-HP13 induced no or modest changes respectively in these metabolites and did not induce a significant increase in rigidity of the mycolic acid layer. Further, the response to rifampin or capreomycin was significantly reduced when these were combined respectively with D-LAK120-HP13 and D-LAK120-A, suggesting a possible mechanism for the synergy of these combinations. The remodelling of the mycomembrane in M. smegmatis is therefore identified as an important countermeasure deployed against rifampin or capreomycin, but this can be mitigated, and rifampin or capreomycin efficacy potentiated, by combining with AMPs.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454