Summary: The immediate activities of the aminoglycoside antibiotic tobramycin were investigated in PAO1. The lethal action of a low concentration of tobramycin (8μ ml) occurred rapidly (1-3 min) and was associated with leakage of certain cellular components into the supernatant. The presence of magnesium at the time of initial exposure protected cells by preventing uptake of tobramycin; however, magnesium addition following a brief exposure did not restore viability. Analyses of supernatant material revealed a rapid 2-fold increase in protein released following tobramycin treatment. A prominent 29 kDa protein, observed by SDS-PAGE in the released material was identified as the periplasmic β-lactamase. Brief exposure to tobramycin did not result in major morphological damage or cell lysis as observed by transmission electron microscopy, and release of LPS was not a primary event. Although activity at the ribosomal level was observed by 2-3 min, leakage was detected after only 1 min. These data indicate that leakage of cellular components, particularly β-lactamase, occurs simultaneously, if not prior to inhibition of protein synthesis by tobramycin.


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