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J Antimicrob Chemother. 1999 Jul;44(1):19-25.

A variety of gram-positive bacteria carry mobile mef genes.

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Department of Pathobiology, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-7238, USA.


The mefE gene codes for a membrane bound efflux protein, which confers resistance to macrolides, and has been identified in Streptococcus pneumoniae. A variety of gram-positive organisms were examined. Twenty-six isolates of S. pneumoniae carried mefE and were resistant to erythromycin (MIC of 2-16 mg/L). Two additional isolates of Emr S. pneumoniae carried both ermB and mefE(MIC of 16-128 mg/L). One Micrococcus luteus, one Corynebacterium jeikeium, three Corynebacterium spp., two viridans streptococci and seven Enterocccus spp. also carried mef genes. It was possible to move the mef gene from all 11 S. pneumoniae tested to susceptible S. pneumoniae and/or Enterococcus faecalis recipients. The addition of DNase (1 g/L) did not affect the gene transfer. It was also possible to move the mef gene from donor Enterococcus spp., viridans streptococci, M. luteus, C. jeikeium and Corynebacterium spp. to E. faecalis recipients. Transconjugant isolates were resistant to erythromycin (MIC = 16 mg/L). Hybridization with a labelled mef oligonucleotide probe against Southern blots and bacterial dot blots confirmed the presence of the mef genes. This is the first time that a mobile mef gene has been identified in four different genera, from three distinct geographical locations.

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