Nature communications

Streptomycin potency is dependent on MscL channel expression.

PMID 25205267


The antibiotic streptomycin is widely used in the treatment of microbial infections. The primary mechanism of action is inhibition of translation by binding to the ribosome, but how it enters the bacterial cell is unclear. Early in the study of this antibiotic, a mysterious streptomycin-induced potassium efflux preceding any decrease in viability was observed; it was speculated that this changed the electrochemical gradient such that streptomycin better accessed the cytoplasm. Here we use a high-throughput screen to search for compounds targeting the mechanosensitive channel of large conductance (MscL) and find dihydrostreptomycin among the 'hits'. Furthermore, we find that MscL is not only necessary for the previously described streptomycin-induced potassium efflux, but also directly increases MscL activity in electrophysiological studies. The data suggest that gating MscL is a novel mode of action of dihydrostreptomycin, and that MscL's large pore may provide a mechanism for cell entry.