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Microb Drug Resist. 2009 Jun;15(2):69-75. doi: 10.1089/mdr.2009.0891.

Comparative genome analysis of high-level penicillin resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae.

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  • 1Antibacterial Biology, Pfizer Global Research & Development, Groton, Connecticut, USA.


Streptococcus pneumoniae strains with very high levels of penicillin resistance (minimum inhibitory concentration [MIC] >or=8 microg/ml) emerged in the 1990 s. Previous studies have traced the changes in penicillin binding proteins (PBP) that result in decreased penicillin susceptibility, and the role of several PBP genes in high-level resistance. In the present study, we investigated the changes that occurred at the two highest levels of penicillin resistance using NimbleGen's Comparative Genome Sequencing (CGS) technology. DNA from a highly resistant (Pen MIC 16 microg/ml) pneumococcus was used to serially transform the R6 strain to high-level resistance. Four distinct levels of penicillin resistance above the susceptible R6 strain (MIC 0.016 microg/ml) were identified. Using CGS technology, the entire genome sequences of the two highest levels of resistant transformants were examined for changes associated with the resistance phenotypes. At the third level of resistance, changes in PBPs 1a, 2b, and 2x were found, very similar to previous reports. At the fourth resistance level, two additional changes were observed in the R6 transformants. More changes were observed in PBP2x, as well as in peptidoglycan GlcNAc deacetylase (pdgA), which had a missense mutation in the coding region. Genetic transformation with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products generated from the high-level resistant parent containing either the additional PBP2x or mutant pdgA gene did not increase the MIC of the third-level transformant. Only when both PCR products were simultaneously transformed into the third-level transformant did colonies emerge that were at the highest level of resistance (16-32 microg/ml), equivalent to the highly resistant parent strain. This is the first instance of the involvement of a variant pdgA gene in penicillin resistance. It is also clear from these experiments and the literature that there are multiple paths to the pneumococcus achieving high-level penicillin resistance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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