The role of intracellular free polyamine (putrescine and spermidine) pools in multiple resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics was investigated among in vitro selected kanamycin-resistant Escherichia coli
J53 mutants expressing diminished oligopeptide-binding protein (OppA) levels and/or defective ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity. The results suggest that diminished OppA content, but not defective ODC activity expression, increased the relative concentration of free spermidine as compared to the wild type strain. Moreover, by adding exogenous polyamines or polyamine synthesis inhibitors to cultures with different mutant strains, a direct relationship between the intracellular OppA levels and resistance to kanamycin was revealed. Collectively these results further suggest a complex relation among OppA expression, aminoglycoside resistance and polyamine metabolism.