Isolation of antibiotic hypersusceptibility mutants of Acinetobacter spp. by selection for DNA release

Hyunwoo Lee, Nora Vázquez-Laslop, Katya A. Klyachko, Alex A. Neyfakh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Isolation of bacterial mutants hypersusceptible to antibiotics can reveal novel targets for antibiotic potentiators. However, identification of such mutants is a difficult task which normally requires laborious replica plating of thousands of colonies. The technique proposed here allows for the positive selection of genetic knockout mutants leading to hypersusceptibility. This technique, designated SDR (selection for DNA release), involves introduction of random insertions of a marker gene into the chromosome of a highly transformable bacterial species, followed by treatment of the obtained library with an antibiotic at subinhibitory concentrations. DNA released by lysing bacteria is collected and used to transform fresh bacteria, selecting for insertion of the marker gene. These selection cycles are repeated until variants with a hypersusceptibility phenotype caused by insertion of the marker begin to dominate in the library. This approach allowed for isolation of a number of mutants of the gram-negative opportunistic pathogen Acinetobacter sp. susceptible to 4- to 16-times-lower concentrations of ampicillin than wild-type bacteria. The mutations affected proteins involved in peptidoglycan turnover and, surprisingly, proteins involved in exopolysaccharide production. A further modification of the SDR technique is described which allows for selecting mutants hypersensitive to agents that affect bacterial physiology but do not cause cell lysis, e.g., inhibitors of translation. This application of SDR is illustrated here by identification of several mutants of Acinetobacter sp. with increased susceptibility (two- to fivefold decrease in the MIC) to erythromycin. The same technique can be used to identify prospective targets for potentiators of many other antibacterial agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1267-1274
Number of pages8
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology


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