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Antimicrobial Resistance Study Highlights Key Protein Domains

In PLOS Genetics, investigators in the US and Spain consider contributors to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacterial populations, focusing on the Vibrio cholerae protein OmpU, an outer membrane porin in the cholera-causing pathogen. "This porin is directly associated with the emergence of toxigenic clades and confers resistance to numerous host antimicrobials," they write, noting that their analyses focused on naturally occurring OmpU allelic variants that turned up in V. cholerae samples collected environmentally. The team tracked down two main porin clusters based on genetic variability and phylogenetics, using a genetic diversity-informed analytical framework, high-throughput screening of OmpU-mutant V. cholerae strains, and phenotypic microarrays to find and characterize OmpU variants and protein domains contributing to AMR and/or resistance to host bile or peptides. "Overall, our assessment of natural allelic variations uncovered functional protein domains associated with AMR," the authors report, "shedding light on the evolutionary processes leading to the emergence of this phenomenon."