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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Nov 1997; 41(11): 2399–2405.
PMCID: PMC164135

Characterization of the penA and penR genes of Burkholderia cepacia 249 which encode the chromosomal class A penicillinase and its LysR-type transcriptional regulator.


Burkholderia cepacia is recognized as an important pathogen in the lung infections of patients with cystic fibrosis. An inducible beta-lactamase activity has been associated with increased resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics in clinical isolates of B. cepacia. In this study, we report the revised sequence of the penA gene, which encodes the inducible penicillinase of B. cepacia, and show that it belongs to the molecular class A beta-lactamases and exhibits a high degree of similarity to the chromosomal beta-lactamase of Klebsiella oxytoca. Analysis of the nucleotide sequence of the DNA region directly upstream of the penA coding sequence revealed an open reading frame (penR), the transcription of which was oriented opposite to that of penA and whose initiation was 130 bp away from that of penA. Two potential ribosome-binding sites and two overlapping -10 and -35 promoter sequences were identified in the intercistronic region. The predicted translation product of penR was a polypeptide of 301 amino acids with an estimated molecular size of 33.2 kDa. The deduced polypeptide of penR showed a high degree of similarity with AmpR-like transcriptional activators of class A and C beta-lactamases, with identities of 59 and 58.7% with Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 AmpR and Proteus vulgaris B317 CumR, respectively. The N-terminal portion of B. cepacia PenR was predicted to include a helix-turn-helix motif, which may bind the LysR motif identified in the intercistronic region. Induction of PenA by imipenem was shown to be dependent upon the presence of PenR. Expression of the cloned B. cepacia penA and penR genes in Escherichia coli SNO302 (ampD) resulted in a high basal and hyperinducible PenA activity. These results suggest that the regulation of the PenA penicillinase of B. cepacia 249 is similar to that observed in other class A and class C beta-lactamases that are under the control of a divergently transcribed AmpR-like regulator.

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Selected References

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