Enhancement of antibiotic activity against multidrug-resistant bacteria by the efflux pump inhibitor 3,4-dibromopyrrole-2,5-dione isolated from a Pseudoalteromonas sp. Academic Article uri icon


  • Members of the resistance nodulation cell division (RND) of efflux pumps play essential roles in multidrug resistance (MDR) in Gram-negative bacteria. Here, we describe the search for new small molecules from marine microbial extracts to block efflux and thus restore antibiotic susceptibility in MDR bacterial strains. We report the isolation of 3,4-dibromopyrrole-2,5-dione (1), an inhibitor of RND transporters, from Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, from the marine bacterium Pseudoalteromonas piscicida. 3,4-Dibromopyrrole-2,5-dione decreased the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of two fluoroquinolones, an aminoglycoside, a macrolide, a beta-lactam, tetracycline, and chloramphenicol between 2- and 16-fold in strains overexpressing three archetype RND transporters (AcrAB-TolC, MexAB-OprM, and MexXY-OprM). 3,4-Dibromopyrrole-2,5-dione also increased the intracellular accumulation of Hoechst 33342 in wild-type but not in transporter-deficient strains and prevented H33342 efflux (IC50 = 0.79 ?g/mL or 3 ?M), a hallmark of efflux pump inhibitor (EPI) functionality. A metabolomic survey of 36 Pseudoalteromonas isolates mapped the presence of primarily brominated metabolites only within the P. piscicida phylogenetic clade, where a majority of antibiotic activity was also observed, suggesting a link between halogenation and enhanced secondary metabolite biosynthetic potential. In sum, 3,4-dibromopyrrole-2,5-dione is a potent EPI and deserves further attention as an adjuvant to enhance the effectiveness of existing antibiotics.

publication date

  • March 27, 2015