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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2009 May;53(5):2100-9. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01197-08. Epub 2009 Feb 23.

Molecular genetics of para-aminosalicylic acid resistance in clinical isolates and spontaneous mutants of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Pathology of Tuberculosis, Pasteur Institute, Scientific Institute of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium.


The emergence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistant to first-line antibiotics has renewed interest in second-line antitubercular agents. Here, we aimed to extend our understanding of the mechanisms underlying para-aminosalicylic acid (PAS) resistance by analysis of six genes of the folate metabolic pathway and biosynthesis of thymine nucleotides (thyA, dfrA, folC, folP1, folP2, and thyX) and three N-acetyltransferase genes [nhoA, aac(1), and aac(2)] among PAS-resistant clinical isolates and spontaneous mutants. Mutations in thyA were identified in only 37% of the clinical isolates and spontaneous mutants. Overall, 24 distinct mutations were identified in the thyA gene and 3 in the dfrA coding region. Based on structural bioinformatics techniques, the altered ThyA proteins were predicted to generate an unfolded or dysfunctional polypeptide. The MIC was determined by Bactec/Alert and dilution assay. Sixty-three percent of the PAS-resistant isolates had no mutations in the nine genes considered in this study, revealing that PAS resistance in M. tuberculosis involves mechanisms or targets other than those pertaining to the biosynthesis of thymine nucleotides. The alternative mechanism(s) or pathway(s) associated with PAS resistance appears to be PAS concentration dependent, in marked contrast to thyA-mutated PAS-resistant isolates.

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