The resistance-nodulation-division (RND) family of efflux pumps confer clinically relevant antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria, such as . RND pumps, including AcrB, are organized as tri-partite systems, consisting of an inner membrane RND pump, a periplasmic adaptor protein (PAP) and an outer membrane channel. Previously, inactivation of the PAPs AcrA and AcrE in has been shown to significantly increase susceptibility to antimicrobials and reduce virulence. Therefore, PAPs are seen as attractive targets for the development of efflux pump inhibitors. However, the role of PAPs in the assembly of tri-partite pumps and the residues involved in PAP-RND pump binding is poorly understood. In this study, point mutations in the predicted RND binding residues of AcrA were generated by site-directed mutagenesis. The point mutants were characterised phenotypically through ethidium bromide efflux assays and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Furthermore, Western blotting was used to verify that the phenotypic effect of the point mutations was not due to destabilisation of the AcrA protein. Point mutations in certain residues, such as G58, F292, R294 and G363 were found to significantly impair efflux activity and increase susceptibility to various antibiotics and dyes, suggesting an important role for these AcrA residues in RND pump binding. Western blotting confirmed that these point mutants were stable and exhibited similar expression levels to the wild-type. These residues could be important targets for the design and development of PAP inhibitors to restore the activity of existing antibiotics and reduce virulence of .


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