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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1994 Sep;38(9):1899-903.

Contribution of VanY D,D-carboxypeptidase to glycopeptide resistance in Enterococcus faecalis by hydrolysis of peptidoglycan precursors.

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  • 1Unité des Agents Antibactériens, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


The vanR, vanS, vanH, vanA, and vanX genes of enterococcal transposon Tn1546 were introduced into the chromosome of Enterococcus faecalis JH2-2. Complementation of this portion of the van gene cluster by a plasmid encoding VanY D,D-carboxypeptidase led to a fourfold increase in the vancomycin MIC (from 16 to 64 micrograms/ml). Multicopy plasmids pAT80 (vanR vanS vanH vanA vanX) and pAT382 (vanR vanS vanH vanA vanX vanY) conferred similar levels of vancomycin resistance to JH2-2. The addition of D-alanine (100 mM) to the culture medium restored the vancomycin susceptibility of E. faecalis JH2-2/pAT80. The pentapeptide UDP-MurNAc-L-Ala-gamma-D-Glu-L-Lys-D-Ala-D-Ala partially replaced pentadepsipeptide UDP-MurNAc-L-Ala-gamma-D-Glu-L-Lys-D-Ala-D-Lac when the strain was grown in the presence of D-alanine. In contrast, resistance mediated by pAT382 was almost unaffected by the addition of the amino acid. Expression of the vanY gene of pAT382 resulted in the formation of the tetrapeptide UDP-MurNAc-L-Ala-gamma-D-Glu-L-Lys-D-Ala, indicating that a portion of the cytoplasmic precursors had been hydrolyzed. These results show that VanY contributes to glycopeptide resistance in conditions in which pentapeptide is present in the cytoplasm above a threshold concentration. However, the contribution of the enzyme to high-level resistance mediated by Tn1546 appears to be moderate, probably because hydrolysis of D-alanyl-D-alanine by VanX efficiently prevents synthesis of the pentapeptide.

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