Front Microbiol. 2021 Feb 4;12:612675. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.612675. eCollection 2021.
In the last two decades, multi (MDR), extensively (XDR), extremely (XXDR) and total (TDR) drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) strains have emerged as a threat to public health worldwide, stressing the need to develop new tuberculosis (TB) prevention and treatment strategies. It is estimated that in the next 35 years, drug-resistant TB will kill around 75 million people and cost the global economy $16.7 trillion. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic alone may contribute with the development of 6.3 million new TB cases due to lack of resources and enforced confinement in TB endemic areas. Evolution of drug-resistant M.tb depends on numerous factors, such as bacterial fitness, strain's genetic background and its capacity to adapt to the surrounding environment, as well as host-specific and environmental factors. Whole-genome transcriptomics and genome-wide association studies in recent years have shed some insights into the complexity of M.tb drug resistance and have provided a better understanding of its underlying molecular mechanisms. In this review, we will discuss M.tb phenotypic and genotypic changes driving resistance, including changes in cell envelope components, as well as recently described intrinsic and extrinsic factors promoting resistance emergence and transmission. We will further explore how drug-resistant M.tb adapts differently than drug-susceptible strains to the lung environment at the cellular level, modulating M.tb-host interactions and disease outcome, and novel next generation sequencing (NGS) strategies to study drug-resistant TB.