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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Aug 1996; 40(8): 1881–1888.
PMCID: PMC163434

Quinolone resistance mutations in topoisomerase IV: relationship to the flqA locus and genetic evidence that topoisomerase IV is the primary target and DNA gyrase is the secondary target of fluoroquinolones in Staphylococcus aureus.

Abstract

Mutations in the flqA (formerly ofx/cfx) resistance locus of Staphylococcus aureus were previously shown to be common after first-step selections for resistance to ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin and to map on the S. aureus chromosome distinctly from gyrA, gyrB, and norA.grlA and grlB, the genes for the topoisomerase IV of S. aureus, were identified from a genomic lambda library on a common KpnI fragment, and grlB hybridized specifically with the chromosomal SmaI A fragment, which contains the flqA locus. Amplification of grlA sequences (codons 1 to 251) by PCRs from nine independent single-step flqA mutants, one multistep mutant, and the parent strain identified mutations encoding a change from Ser to Phe at position 80 in four mutants, a novel change from Ala to either Glu or Pro at position 116 in three mutants, and no change in three mutants. In the multistep mutant, another resistance locus, flqC, was mapped by transformation to the chromosomal SmaI G fragment by linkage to omega(ch::Tn551)1051 (58%) and nov (97.9%), which encodes resistance to novobiocin. This fragment contains the gyrA gene, and flqC mutants had a mutation in gyrA encoding a change from Ser to Leu at position 84, a change previously found in resistant clinical isolates. In genetic outcrosses, the flqC (gyrA) mutation expressed resistance only in flqA mutants, including those with both types of grla mutations. The silent mutant allele of gyrA was present in a flqA background and expressed resistance only upon introduction of a grlA mutation. At fourfold the MIC of ciprofloxacin, the bactericidal activity of ciprofloxacin was reduced in a grlA mutant and was abolished in gyrA grlA double mutants. These findings provide direct genetic evidence that topoisomerase IV is the primary target of current fluoroquinolones in S. aureus and that this effect may result from the greater sensitivity of topoisomerase IV relative to that of DNA gyrase to these agents. Furthermore, resistance from an altered DNA gyrase requires resistant topoisomerase IV for its expression.

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Selected References

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