Department of Chemistry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2N2, Canada; Department of Medical Microbiology/Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 1R9, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]
Intrinsic resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, defined by chromosomally encoded low outer membrane permeability and constitutively over-expressed efflux pumps, is a major reason why the pathogen is refractory to many antibiotics. Herein, we report that heterodimeric rifampicin-tobramycin conjugates break this intrinsic resistance and sensitize multidrug and extensively drug-resistant P. aeruginosa to doxycycline and chloramphenicol in vitro and in vivo. Tetracyclines and chloramphenicol are model compounds for bacteriostatic effects, but when combined with rifampicin-tobramycin adjuvants, their effects became bactericidal at sub MIC levels. Potentiation of tetracyclines correlates with the SAR of this class of drugs and is consistent with outer membrane permeabilization and efflux pump inhibition. Overall, this strategy finds new uses for old drugs and presents an avenue to expand the therapeutic utility of legacy antibiotics to recalcitrant pathogens such as P. aeruginosa.