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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2003 Oct;47(10):3208-13.

A rifampin-hypersensitive mutant reveals differences between strains of Mycobacterium smegmatis and presence of a novel transposon, IS1623.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics and Microbiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada.


Rifampin is a front-line antibiotic for the treatment of tuberculosis. Infections caused by rifampin- and multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains are difficult to treat and contribute to a poor clinical outcome. Rifampin resistance most often results from mutations in rpoB. However, some drug-resistant strains have rpoB alleles that encode the phenotype for susceptibility. Similarly, non-M. tuberculosis mycobacteria exhibit higher levels of baseline resistance to rifampin, despite the presence of rpoB alleles that encode the phenotype for susceptibility. To identify other genes involved in rifampin resistance, we generated a library of Mycobacterium smegmatis mc(2)155 transposon insertion mutants. Upon screening this library, we identified one mutant that was hypersensitive to rifampin. The transposon insertion was localized to the arr gene, which encodes rifampin ADP ribosyltransferase, an enzyme able to inactivate rifampin. Sequence analysis revealed differences in the arr alleles of M. smegmatis strain mc(2)155 and previously described strain DSM 43756. The arr region of strain mc(2)155 contains a second, partial copy of the arr gene plus a novel insertion sequence, IS1623.

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