Antimicrobial peptides are promising alternative antimicrobial agents. However, little is known about whether resistance to small-molecule antibiotics leads to cross-resistance (decreased sensitivity) or collateral sensitivity (increased sensitivity) to antimicrobial peptides. We systematically addressed this question by studying the susceptibilities of a comprehensive set of 60 antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli strains towards 24 antimicrobial peptides. Strikingly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria show a high frequency of collateral sensitivity to antimicrobial peptides, whereas cross-resistance is relatively rare. We identify clinically relevant multidrug-resistance mutations that increase bacterial sensitivity to antimicrobial peptides. Collateral sensitivity in multidrug-resistant bacteria arises partly through regulatory changes shaping the lipopolysaccharide composition of the bacterial outer membrane. These advances allow the identification of antimicrobial peptide-Antibiotic combinations that enhance antibiotic activity against multidrug-resistant bacteria and slow down de novo evolution of resistance. In particular, when co-Administered as an adjuvant, the antimicrobial peptide glycine-leucine-Amide caused up to 30-fold decrease in the antibiotic resistance level of resistant bacteria. Our work provides guidelines for the development of efficient peptide-based therapies of antibiotic-resistant infections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Microbiology (medical)
- Cell Biology