Gram-positive pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) have been frequently associated with bacterial resistance mechanisms. These mechanisms, in turn, restrict a range of therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of infections caused by these micro-organisms. Faced with this problem, the present study aims to isolate and characterize molecules with antimicrobial activity derived from the fungus Penicillium citrinum isolated from Cerrado soil. Furthermore, we also tested possible antibacterial potential alone and in combination with commercial antimicrobial agents. In this context, citrinin was isolated and characterized by nuclear magnetic resonance and electrospray ionization. Functional analyses showed MIC of 128 µg ml−1 against S. aureus ATCC 25923, E. faecalis ATCC 29212 and a clinical isolate of vancomycin-resistant E. faecium (VRE01). However, for a clinical strain of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA01), the MIC was 256 µg ml−1. In order to avoid such high concentrations and reduce the collateral effects, additive effects were evidenced by combining citrinin with cefoxitin against MRSA01 (FIC index=0.5) and also citrinin with vancomycin toward VRE01 (FIC index=0.5). In vivo studies with BALB/c-tipe mice (MRSA assay) demonstrated a clinical ineffectiveness of cefoxitin associated with citrinin (9.8 mg kg−1 of cefoxitin +0.2 mg kg−1 of citrinin), with this combination being inefficient to increase animal survival. However, the combination used in the treatment of VRE (23.5 mg kg−1 of citrinin +1.5 mg kg−1 of vancomycin) sepsis model was extremely promising, leading to an animal survival rate of 80 percent. In summary, our data show, for the first time, the possible successful use of citrinin associated with vancomycin for pathogenic bacteria control.
Bacillus licheniformis strains are used for the large-scale production of industrial exoenzymes from proteinaceous substrates, but details of the amino acid metabolism involved are largely unknown. In this study, two chromosomal genes putatively involved in amino acid metabolism of B. licheniformis were deleted to clarify their role. For this, a convenient counterselection system for markerless in-frame deletions was developed for B. licheniformis. A deletion plasmid containing up- and downstream DNA segments of the chromosomal deletion target was conjugated to B. licheniformis and integrated into the genome by homologous recombination. Thereafter, the counterselection was done by using a codBA cassette. The presence of cytosine deaminase and cytosine permease exerted a conditionally lethal phenotype on B. licheniformis cells in the presence of the cytosine analogue 5-fluorocytosine. Thereby clones were selected that lost the integrated vector sequence and the anticipated deletion target after a second recombination step. This method allows the construction of markerless mutants in Bacillus strains in iterative cycles. B. licheniformis MW3 derivatives lacking either one of the ORFs BL03009 or BL00190, encoding a putative alanine dehydrogenase and a similar putative enzyme, respectively, retained the ability to grow in minimal medium supplemented with alanine as the carbon source. In the double deletion mutant MW3 ΔBL03009 ΔBL00190, however, growth on alanine was completely abolished. These data indicate that the two encoded enzymes are paralogues fulfilling mutually replaceable functions in alanine utilization, and suggest that in B. licheniformis MW3 alanine utilization is initiated by direct oxidative transamination to pyruvate and ammonium.