The WBLC/WHIB7 transcription factor controls intrinsic resistance to translation-targeting antibiotics by altering ribosome composition

Ju Hyung Lee, Ji Sun Yoo, Yeonbum Kim, Jong Seo Kim, Eun Jin Lee, Jung Hye Roe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Bacteria that encounter antibiotics can efficiently change their physiology to develop resistance. This intrinsic antibiotic resistance is mediated by multiple pathways, including a regulatory system(s) that activates specific genes. In some Streptomyces and Mycobacterium spp., the WblC/WhiB7 transcription factor is required for intrinsic resistance to translation-targeting antibiotics. Wide conservation of WblC/WhiB7 within Actinobacteria indicates a critical role of WblC/WhiB7 in developing resistance to such antibiotics. Here, we identified 312 WblC target genes in Streptomyces coelicolor, a model antibiotic-producing bacterium, using a combined analysis of RNA sequencing and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing. Interestingly, WblC controls many genes involved in translation, in addition to previously identified antibiotic resistance genes. Moreover, WblC promotes translation rate during antibiotic stress by altering the ribosome-associated protein composition. Our genome-wide analyses highlight a previously unappreciated antibiotic resistance mechanism that modifies ribosome composition and maintains the translation rate in the presence of sub-MIC levels of antibiotics. IMPORTANCE The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is one of the top threats in human health. Therefore, we need to understand how bacteria acquire resistance to antibiotics and continue growth even in the presence of antibiotics. Streptomyces coelicolor, an antibiotic-producing soil bacterium, intrinsically develops resistance to translation-targeting antibiotics. Intrinsic resistance is controlled by the WblC/WhiB7 transcription factor that is highly conserved within Actinobacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Here, identification of the WblC/WhiB7 regulon revealed that WblC/WhiB7 controls ribosome maintenance genes and promotes translation in the presence of antibiotics by altering the composition of ribosomeassociated proteins. Also, the WblC-mediated ribosomal alteration is indeed required for resistance to translation-targeting antibiotics. This suggests that inactivation of the WblC/WhiB7 regulon could be a potential target to treat antibiotic-resistant mycobacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00625-20
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (2017R1A2A1A05000735 to J.-H.R.). J.-S.Y., J.-H.L., and Y.K. were supported by B.K. Plus Fellowship for Biological Sciences at Seoul National University. Funding for open-access charge was paid by The National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2019R1A2C2003460 to E.-J.L.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Lee et al.


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Ribosome-associated proteins
  • Streptomyces coelicolor
  • Translation-targeting antibiotics
  • WhiB-like protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


Dive into the research topics of 'The WBLC/WHIB7 transcription factor controls intrinsic resistance to translation-targeting antibiotics by altering ribosome composition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this