Metallo-β-lactamases and a tug-of-war for the available zinc at the host–pathogen interface



Metallo-b-lactamases (MBLs) are zinc-dependent hydrolases that inactivate virtually all b-lactam antibiotics. The expression of MBLs by Gram-negative bacteria severely limits the therapeutic options to treat infections. MBLs bind the essential metal ions in the bacterial periplasm, and their activity is challenged upon the zinc starvation conditions elicited by the native immune response. Metal depletion compromises both the enzyme activity and stability in the periplasm, impacting on the resistance profile in vivo. Thus, novel inhibitory approaches involve the use of chelating, agents or metal-based drugs that displace the native metal ion. However, newer MBL variants incorporate mutations that improve their metal binding abilities or stabilize the metal-depleted form, revealing that metal starvation is a driving force acting on MBL evolution. Future challenges require addressing the gap between in cell and in vitro studies, dissecting the mechanism for MBL metalation and determining the metal content in situ.

Palabras clave

Zinc, Metallo-b-lactamases, Antibiotic resistance, Protein evolution, Periplasmic zinc homeostasis