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Efflux pumps are a mechanism of intrinsic and evolved resistance in bacteria. If an efflux pump can expel an antibiotic so that its concentration within the cell is below a killing threshold the bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic. Efflux pumps may be specific or they may pump various different substances. This is why many efflux pumps confer multi drug resistance (MDR). In particular over expression of the AcrAB-TolC efflux pump system confers MDR in both Salmonella and Escherichia coli. We consider the complex gene regulation network that controls expression of genes central to controlling the efflux associated genes acrAB and acrEF in Salmonella. We present the first mathematical model of this gene regulatory network in the form of a system of ordinary differential equations. Using a time dependent asymptotic analysis, we examine in detail the behaviour of the efflux system on various different timescales. Asymptotic approximations of the steady states provide an analytical comparison of targets for efflux inhibition.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of mathematical biology

Publication Date





School of Mathematics, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.