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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2003 Oct;47(10):3053-60.

Intrinsic macrolide resistance in Mycobacterium smegmatis is conferred by a novel erm gene, erm(38).

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  • 1Children's Hospital Los Angeles and University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA. kanash@usc.edu

Abstract

High-level, acquired macrolide resistance in mycobacteria is conferred by mutation within the 23S rRNA gene. However, several mycobacteria are naturally resistant to macrolides, including the Mycobacterium smegmatis group and Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Thus, the aim of this study was to characterize this resistance. Intrinsic macrolide resistance in M. smegmatis was inducible and showed cross-resistance to lincosamides but not to streptogramin B (i.e., ML resistance). A similar phenotype was found with Mycobacterium microti and macrolide-resistant Mycobacterium fortuitum. A search of the DNA sequence data for M. smegmatis strain mc(2)155 identified a novel erm gene, erm(38), and expression analysis showed that erm(38) RNA levels increased >10-fold after a 2-h incubation with macrolide. Inducible ML resistance was not expressed by an erm(38) knockout mutant, and complementation of this mutant with intact erm(38) in trans resulted in high-level ML resistance (e.g., clarithromycin MIC of >512 micro g/ml). Thus, the results indicate that erm(38) confers the intrinsic ML resistance of M. smegmatis. Southern blot analysis with an erm(38)-specific probe indicated that a similar gene may be present in macrolide-resistant M. fortuitum. This finding, with the presence of the erm(37) gene (Rv1988) in the M. tuberculosis complex, suggests that such genes are widespread in mycobacteria with intrinsic macrolide resistance.

PMID:
14506008
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC201133
Free PMC Article
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