Tuberculosis is a significant global health threat, with one-third of the world’s population infected with its causative agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) Mtb that is resistant to the frontline anti-tubercular drugs rifampicin and isoniazid forces treatment with toxic second-line drugs. Currently, ~4% of new and ~21% of previously treated tuberculosis cases are either rifampicin-drug-resistant or MDR Mtb infections1. The specific molecular host–pathogen interactions mediating the rapid worldwide spread of MDR Mtb strains remain poorly understood. W-Beijing Mtb strains are highly prevalent throughout the world and associated with increased drug resistance2. In the early 1990s, closely related MDR W-Beijing Mtb strains (W strains) were identified in large institutional outbreaks in New York City and caused high mortality rates3. The production of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) by macrophages coincides with the shift towards aerobic glycolysis, a metabolic process that mediates protection against drug-susceptible Mtb4. Here, using a collection of MDR W-Mtb strains, we demonstrate that the overexpression of Mtb cell wall lipids, phthiocerol dimycocerosates, bypasses the interleukin 1 receptor, type I (IL-1R1) signalling pathway, instead driving the induction of interferon-β (IFN-β) to reprogram macrophage metabolism. Importantly, Mtb carrying a drug resistance-conferring single nucleotide polymorphism in rpoB (H445Y)5 can modulate host macrophage metabolic reprogramming. These findings transform our mechanistic understanding of how emerging MDR Mtb strains may acquire drug resistance single nucleotide polymorphisms, thereby altering Mtb surface lipid expression and modulating host macrophage metabolic reprogramming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1108
Number of pages10
JournalNature microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


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