Riboswitch control of aminoglycoside antibiotic resistance.
The majority of riboswitches are regulatory RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding small-molecule metabolites. Here we report the discovery of an aminoglycoside-binding riboswitch that is widely distributed among antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens. This riboswitch is present in the leader RNA of the resistance genes that encode the aminoglycoside acetyl transferase (AAC) and aminoglycoside adenyl transferase (AAD) enzymes that confer resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics through modification of the drugs. We show that expression of the AAC and AAD resistance genes is regulated by aminoglycoside binding to a secondary structure in their 5' leader RNA. Reporter gene expression, direct measurements of drug RNA binding, chemical probing, and UV crosslinking combined with mutational analysis demonstrate that the leader RNA functions as an aminoglycoside-sensing riboswitch in which drug binding to the leader RNA leads to the induction of aminoglycosides antibiotic resistance. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.