Tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is a leading cause of death in humans worldwide. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of Mtb is a threat to tuberculosis control. A general belief is that drug resistance is acquired by Mtb during antibiotic treatment by accumulation of spontaneous mutations. Also, it is known that the drug resistance mutations (DRM) have an associated fitness cost, reducing the transmissibility and virulence of resistant strains. In this work we show that many canonical DRM are clade specific; i.e. they occur only in specific genetic lineages of Mtb and depend on a specific genetic context necessary for the reduction of the fitness cost and sustainability of the drug resistance phenotype. Dependence of the drug resistance on occurrence of genetic variants of multiple genes and specific activities of the encoded proteins allows combating the drug resistance by impairing the global genetic context. A new drug, FS-1, reverses antibiotic resistance by compromising this genetic context and aggravating the fitness cost of DRM.
Part of the book: Basic Biology and Applications of Actinobacteria