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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1993 May;37(5):939-46.

Biochemical properties of a carbapenem-hydrolyzing beta-lactamase from Enterobacter cloacae and cloning of the gene into Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Microbiologie, Hôpital Raymond Poincaré, Faculté de Médecine Paris-Ouest, Garches, France.


A clinical isolate of Enterobacter cloacae, strain NOR-1, exhibited resistance to imipenem and remained susceptible to extended-spectrum cephalosporins. Clavulanic acid partially restored the susceptibility of the strain to imipenem. Two beta-lactamases with isoelectric points (pI) of 6.9 and > 9.2 were detected in strain E. cloacae NOR-1; the higher pI corresponded to AmpC cephalosporinase. Plasmid DNA was not detected in E. cloacae NOR-1 and imipenem resistance could not be transferred into Escherichia coli JM109. The carbapenem-hydrolyzing beta-lactamase gene was cloned into plasmid pACYC184. One recombinant plasmid, pPTN1, harbored a 5.3-kb Sau3A fragment from E. cloacae NOR-1 expressing the carbapenem-hydrolyzing beta-lactamase. This enzyme (pI 6.9) hydrolyzed ampicillin, cephalothin, and imipenem more rapidly than it did meropenem and aztreonam, but it hydrolyzed extended-spectrum cephalosporins only weakly and did not hydrolyze cefoxitin. Hydrolytic activity was partially inhibited by clavulanic acid, sulbactam, and tazobactam, was nonsusceptible to chelating agents such as EDTA and 1,10-o-phenanthroline, and was independent of the presence of ZnCl2. Its relative molecular mass was 30,000 Da. Induction experiments concluded that the carbapenem-hydrolyzing beta-lactamase biosynthesis was inducible by cefoxitin and imipenem. Subcloning experiments with HindIII partial digests of pPTN1 resulted in a recombinant plasmid, designated pPTN2, which contained a 1.3-kb insert from pPTN1 and which conferred resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics. Hybridization studies performed with a 1.2-kb HindIII fragment from pPtN2 failed to determine any homology with ampC of E. cloacae, with other known beta-lactamase genes commonly found in members of the family Enterobacteriaceae (bla(TEM-1)) and bla(SHV-3) derivatives), and with previously described carbapenemase genes such as those from Xanthomonas maltophilia, Bacillus cereus, Bacteroides fragilis (cfiA), and Aeromonas hydrophila (cphA). This work describing the biochemical properties of a novel chromosome-encoded beta-lactamase from E. cloacae indicates that this enzyme differs from all the previously described carbapenemases. This is the first reported cloning of a carbapenem-hydrolyzing gene from a member of the family Enterobacteriaceae.

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