IreB, a Ser/Thr kinase substrate, influences antimicrobial resistance in Enterococcus faecalis

Academic Article


  • Enterococcus faecalis is a Gram-positive bacterium that is a major cause of hospital-acquired infections, in part due to its intrinsic resistance to cephalosporins. The mechanism that confers intrinsic cephalosporin resistance in enterococci remains incompletely defined. Previously, we have shown that the Ser/Thr protein kinase and phosphatase pair IreK and IreP act antagonistically to regulate cephalosporin resistance in E. faecalis. We hypothesize that IreK senses antibiotic-induced cell wall damage and activates a signaling pathway leading to antibiotic resistance. However, the factors downstream of IreK have not yet been identified. To discover such factors, suppressor mutations that restored resistance to a ΔireK kinase mutant were identified. Mutations were found in IreB, a highly conserved gene of unknown function that is widespread among low-GC Gram-positive bacteria. We show that IreB plays a negative regulatory role in cephalosporin resistance and is an endogenous substrate of both IreK and IreP. IreB is phosphorylated on conserved threonine residues, and mutations at these sites impair cephalosporin resistance. Our results are consistent with a model in which the activity of IreB is modulated by IreK-dependent phosphorylation in a signaling pathway required for cephalosporin resistance and begin to shed light on the function of this previously uncharacterized protein. Copyright © 2013 White.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hall CL; Tschannen M; Worthey EA; Kristich CJ
  • Start Page

  • 6179
  • End Page

  • 6186
  • Volume

  • 57
  • Issue

  • 12