Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova


The extensive and sometimes incorrect and noncompliant use of various types of antimicrobial agents has accelerated the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In fact, AMR has become one of the greatest global threat to human health in this era. The broad-spectrum antibiotics aminoglycosides (AGs) display excellent potency against most Gram-negative bacteria, mycobacteria, and some Gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. The AG antibiotics amikacin, gentamicin, kanamycin, and tobramycin are still commonly prescribed in the U.S.A. for the treatment of serious infections. Unfortunately, bacteria evolve to acquire resistance to AGs via four different mechanisms: i) changing in membrane permeability to resist drugs from entering, ii) upregulating efflux pumps for active removal of intracellular AGs, iii) modifying the antimicrobial target(s) to prevent drugs binding to their targets, and iv) acquiring resistance enzymes to chemically inactivate the compounds. Amongst all, the acquisition of resistance enzymes, AG-modifying enzymes (AMEs), is the most common resistance mechanism identified. Depending on the chemistry each enzyme catalyzes, AMEs can be further divided into AG N-acetyltransferases (AACs), AG O-phosphotransferases (APHs), and AG O-nucleotidyltransferases.

To overcome AME-related resistance, we need to better understand these resistance enzymes and further seek ways to either escape or inhibit their actions. In this dissertation, I summarized my efforts to characterize the AAC(6') domain and its mutant enzymes from a bifunctional AME, AAC(6')-Ie/APH(2")-Ia as well as another common AME, APH(3')-IIa. I also explained my attempt to inhibit the action of various AAC enzymes using metal salts. In an effort to explore the current resistance epidemic, I evaluated the resistance against carbapenem and AG antibiotics and the correlation between the resistance profiles and the AME genes in a collection of 122 Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolates obtained from the University of Kentucky Hospital System. Besides tackling the resistance mechanisms in bacteria, I have also attempted to explore a new antifungal option by repurposing an existing antipsychotic drug, bromperidol, and a panel of its derivatives into a combination therapy with the azole antifungals against a variety of pathogenic yeasts and filamentous fungi.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)