The antipsychotic drug thioridazine is a candidate drug for an alternative treatment of infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in combination with the β-lactam antibiotic oxacillin. The drug has been shown to have the capability to resensitize MRSA to oxacillin. We have previously shown that the expression of some resistance genes is abolished after treatment with thioridazine and oxacillin. To further understand the mechanism underlying the reversal of resistance, we tested the expression of genes involved in antibiotic resistance and cell wall biosynthesis in response to thioridazine in combination with oxacillin. We observed that the oxacillin-induced expression of genes belonging to the VraSR regulon is reduced by the addition of thioridazine. The exclusion of such key factors involved in cell wall biosynthesis will most likely lead to a weakened cell wall and affect the ability of the bacteria to sustain oxacillin treatment. Furthermore, we found that thioridazine itself reduces the expression level of selected virulence genes and that selected toxin genes are not induced by thioridazine. In the present study, we find indications that the mechanism underlying reversal of resistance by thioridazine relies on decreased expression of specific genes involved in cell wall biosynthesis.
F E M S Microbiology Letters, 2011, Vol 318, Issue 2, p. 168-176