Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Biomedical Sciences

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

W. Scott Champney

Committee Members

Alok Agrawal, Donald Hoover, Antonio Rusinol, Doug Thewke


Bacteremia initiated by Staphylococcus aureus infections can be a serious medical problem. Although a number of different antibiotics are used to combat staphylococcal infections, resistance has continued to develop. Combination therapy for certain infections has been used to reduce the emergence of resistance when a single agent has become ineffective. We hypothesize that the use of rifampicin and ciprofloxacin in combination with azithromycin, known for its inhibitory effects on the bacterial ribosome, can create potential synergistic effects resulting from indirect effects on ribosomal subunit synthesis.

To determine this we measured the effects of single and multiple antibiotics on cell growth rates, cell viability, and synthesis rates for DNA, RNA, and protein. We then measured synthesis rates of ribosomal subunits and the amounts of gyrase and RNAP. Effects of the antibiotic combinations on 70S ribosomes was assayed and the amounts of RNA and degradation was measured. We lastly studied the effects of these antibiotic combinations on mutation frequency in Staphylococcus aureus.

Our data have shown support not only for the use of antibiotic combination therapy but have provided strong evidence of an increase in the inhibition of bacterial ribosome assembly in Staphylococcus aureus. The reduction of 50S ribosomal subunit synthesis and 23S ribosomal RNA in cells grown in the presence of azithromycin, already known for it’s inhibitory effects on the 50S subunit synthesis, in combination with rifampicin or in combination with rifampicin and ciprofloxacin was observed. This also resulted in a reduction or elimination in the frequency of resistant cells when grown in the presence of these combinations.

These studies have shed light on the mechanism of action involved and synergistic effects occurring in combination antibiotic treatments and how ribosomal subunit assembly is affected. The insights gained through this research provide necessary information needed for the design of more potent antibiotic combinations. This will create a better understanding and new methods for eliminating the spread of harmful pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Biochemistry Commons