Tetracycline resistance by antibiotic inactivation was first identified in commensal organisms but has since been reported in environmental and pathogenic microbes. Here, we identify and characterize an expanded pool of tet(X)-like genes in environmental and human commensal metagenomes via inactivation by antibiotic selection of metagenomic libraries. These genes formed two distinct clades according to habitat of origin, and resistance phenotypes were similarly correlated. Each gene isolated from the human gut encodes resistance to all tetracyclines tested, including eravacycline and omadacycline. We report a biochemical and structural characterization of one enzyme, Tet(X7). Further, we identify Tet(X7) in a clinical Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolate and demonstrate its contribution to tetracycline resistance. Lastly, we show anhydrotetracycline and semi-synthetic analogues inhibit Tet(X7) to prevent enzymatic tetracycline degradation and increase tetracycline efficacy against strains expressing tet(X7). This work improves our understanding of resistance by tetracycline-inactivation and provides the foundation for an inhibition-based strategy for countering resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number241
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


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