Daptomycin, a last-line-of-defense antibiotic for treating Gram-positive infections, is experiencing clinical failure against important infectious agents, including Corynebacterium striatum. The recent transition of daptomycin to generic status is projected to dramatically increase availability, use, and clinical failure. Here we confirm the genetic mechanism of high-level daptomycin resistance (HLDR; MIC = >256 μg/ml) in C. striatum, which evolved within a patient during daptomycin therapy, a phenotype recapitulated in vitro. In all 8 independent cases tested, loss-offunction mutations in phosphatidylglycerol synthase (pgsA2) were necessary and sufficient for high-level daptomycin resistance. Through lipidomic and biochemical analysis, we demonstrate that daptomycin's activity is dependent on the membrane phosphatidylglycerol (PG) concentration. Until now, the verification of PG as the in vivo target of daptomycin has proven difficult since tested cell model systems were not viable without membrane PG. C. striatum becomes daptomycin resistant at a high level by removing PG from the membrane and changing the membrane composition to maintain viability. This work demonstrates that loss-of-function mutation in pgsA2 and the loss of membrane PG are necessary and sufficient to produce highlevel resistance to daptomycin in C. striatum. IMPORTANCE Antimicrobial resistance threatens the efficacy of antimicrobial treatment options, including last-line-of-defense drugs. Understanding how this resistance develops can help direct antimicrobial stewardship efforts and is critical to designing the next generation of antimicrobial therapies. Here we determine how Corynebacterium striatum, a skin commensal and opportunistic pathogen, evolved high-level resistance to a drug of last resort, daptomycin. Through a single mutation, this pathogen was able to remove the daptomycin's target, phosphatidylglycerol (PG), from the membrane and evade daptomycin's bactericidal activity. We found that additional compensatory changes were not necessary to support the removal of PG and replacement with phosphatidylinositol (PI). The ease with which C. striatum evolved high-level resistance is cause for alarm and highlights the importance of screening new antimicrobials against a wide range of clinical pathogens which may harbor unique capacities for resistance evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37118
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Artificial liposomes
  • Corynebacterium
  • Daptomycin
  • Genomics
  • Lipidomics
  • Phosphatidylglycerol
  • Surface plasmon resonance
  • Transcriptomics


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