• Open Access

Characterization of the RND family of multidrug efflux pumps: in silico to in vivo confirmation of four functionally distinct subgroups


E-mail jlramos@eez.csic.es; Tel. (+34) 958 181608; Fax (+34) 958 135740.


We have developed a generalized profile that identifies members of the root-nodulation-cell-division (RND) family of efflux pumps and classifies them into four functional subfamilies. According to Z-score values, efflux pumps can be grouped by their metabolic function, thus making it possible to distinguish pumps involved in antibiotic resistance (group 1) from those involved in metal resistance (group 3). In silico data regarding efflux pumps in group 1 were validated after identification of RND efflux pumps in a number of environmental microbes that were isolated as resistant to ethidium bromide. Analysis of the Pseudomonas putida KT2440 genome identified efflux pumps in all groups. A collection of mutants in efflux pumps and a screening platform consisting of 50 drugs were created to assign a function to the efflux pumps. We validated in silico data regarding efflux pumps in groups 1 and 3 using 9 different mutants. Four mutants belonging to group 2 were found to be more sensitive than the wild-type to oxidative stress-inducing agents such as bipyridyl and methyl viologen. The two remaining mutants belonging to group 4 were found to be more sensitive than the parental to tetracycline and one of them was particularly sensitive to rubidium and chromate. By effectively combining in vivo data with generalized profiles and gene annotation data, this approach allowed the assignment, according to metabolic function, of both known and uncharacterized RND efflux pumps into subgroups, thereby providing important new insight into the functions of proteins within this family.