Porin-independent accumulation in Pseudomonas enables antibiotic discovery

Emily J. Geddes, Morgan Gugger, Alfredo Garcia, Martin Garcia Chavez, Myung Ryul Lee, Sarah J. Perlmutter, Christoph Bieniossek, Laura Guasch, Paul Hergenrother

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gram-negative antibiotic development has been hindered by a poor understanding of the types of compounds that can accumulate within these bacteria1,2. The presence of efflux pumps and substrate-specific outer-membrane porins in Pseudomonas aeruginosa renders this pathogen particularly challenging3. As a result, there are few antibiotic options for P. aeruginosa infections4 and its many porins have made the prospect of discovering general accumulation guidelines seem unlikely5. Here we assess the whole-cell accumulation of 345 diverse compounds in P. aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. Although certain positively charged compounds permeate both bacterial species, P. aeruginosa is more restrictive compared to E. coli. Computational analysis identified distinct physicochemical properties of small molecules that specifically correlate with P. aeruginosa accumulation, such as formal charge, positive polar surface area and hydrogen bond donor surface area. Mode of uptake studies revealed that most small molecules permeate P. aeruginosa using a porin-independent pathway, thus enabling discovery of general P. aeruginosa accumulation trends with important implications for future antibiotic development. Retrospective antibiotic examples confirmed these trends and these discoveries were then applied to expand the spectrum of activity of a gram-positive-only antibiotic, fusidic acid, into a version that demonstrates a dramatic improvement in antibacterial activity against P. aeruginosa. We anticipate that these discoveries will facilitate the design and development of high-permeating antipseudomonals.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
Issue number7990
Early online dateNov 22 2023
StatePublished - Dec 7 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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