EfrEF and the Transcription Regulator ChIR Are Required for Chlorhexidine Stress Response in Enterococcus faecalis V583
Li, Farry J.
Palmer, Kelli L.
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Enterococcus faecalis is an opportunistic pathogen and leading cause of health care-associated infections. Daily chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) bathing of patients is generally regarded as an effective strategy to reduce the occurrence of health care-associated infections. It is likely that E. faecalis is frequently exposed to inhibitory and subinhibitory concentrations of CHG in clinical settings. The goal of this study was to investigate how the vancomycin-resistant strain E. faecalis V583 transcriptionally responds to and tolerates stress from CHG. We used transcriptome (microarray) analysis to identify genes upregulated by E. faecalis V583 in response to CHG. The genes efrE (EF2226) and efrF (EF2227), encoding a heterodimeric ABC transport system, were the most highly upregulated genes. efrEF expression was induced by CHG at concentrations several 2-fold dilutions below the MIC. Deletion of efrEF increased E. faecalis V583 susceptibility to CHG. We found that ChlR, a MerR-like regulator encoded by a sequence upstream of efrEF, mediated the CHG-dependent upregulation of efrEF, and deletion of chlR also increased chlorhexidine susceptibility. Overall, our study gives insight into E. faecalis stress responses to a commonly used antiseptic.