Infect. Immun. 88 (11) - [2020-10-19; online 2020-10-19]
Upon biofilm formation, production of extracellular matrix components and alteration in physiology and metabolism allows bacteria to build up multicellular communities which can facilitate nutrient acquisition during unfavorable conditions and provide protection toward various forms of environmental stresses to individual cells. Thus, bacterial cells within biofilms become tolerant against antimicrobials and the immune system. In the present study, we evaluated the antibiofilm activity of the macrolides clarithromycin and azithromycin. Clarithromycin showed antibiofilm activity against rdar (red, dry, and rough) biofilm formation of the gastrointestinal pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium ATCC 14028 (Nalr) at a 1.56 μM subinhibitory concentration in standing culture and dissolved cell aggregates at 15 μM in a microaerophilic environment, suggesting that the oxygen level affects the activity of the drug. Treatment with clarithromycin significantly decreased transcription and production of the rdar biofilm activator CsgD, with biofilm genes such as csgB and adrA to be concomitantly downregulated. Although fliA and other flagellar regulon genes were upregulated, apparent motility was downregulated. RNA sequencing showed a holistic cell response upon clarithromycin exposure, whereby not only genes involved in the biofilm-related regulatory pathways but also genes that likely contribute to intrinsic antimicrobial resistance, and the heat shock stress response were differentially regulated. Most significantly, clarithromycin exposure shifted the cells toward an apparent oxygen- and energy-depleted status, whereby the metabolism that channels into oxidative phosphorylation was downregulated, and energy gain by degradation of propane 1,2-diol, ethanolamine and l-arginine catabolism, potentially also to prevent cytosolic acidification, was upregulated. This analysis will allow the subsequent identification of novel intrinsic antimicrobial resistance determinants.