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Microb Drug Resist. 1999 Winter;5(4):279-87.

Characterization of integrons in Escherichia coli of the normal intestinal flora of swine.

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Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology, and Food Hygiene, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo.


Multiresistant Escherichia coli isolates of the normal intestinal flora of healthy fattening pigs were examined for the presence of integron class 1 by XL (extra long) PCR. The class 1 integron was detected in 17 isolates originating from 14 healthy animals on seven different farms. One isolate contained two class 1 integrons. The inserted gene cassettes were characterized by DNA sequencing and PCR. The ant(3")-Ia gene responsible for resistance to streptomycin/spectinomycin was inserted in all integrons detected. Fifteen isolates contained this gene cassette as the only inserted cassette. Three isolates contained integrons with two gene cassettes. Two isolates contained integrons with the trimethoprim resistance gene dfr1 and one isolate contained the oxa1 beta-lactamase gene upstream to the ant(3")-Ia gene. Detection of these three different resistance gene cassettes in bacteria from swine shows that cassettes occurring in integrons in human clinical isolates also appear in bacteria of the normal intestinal flora of healthy swine. Two integron-harboring strains were obtained from each of three different animals. These strains were probably not clonal derivatives of each other, suggesting the existence of different multiresistance clones within the intestinal normal flora of one specific animal. The oxa1 nucleotide sequence found in E. coli from swine differ by seven nucleotides from the oxa1 nucleotide sequence of the gene from the R-plasmid RGN238. The fact that these two sequences are not identical might indicate that the two genes have evolved separately in different surroundings from the common ancestor. Transmissible plasmids of approximately 200 kb containing integron class I were detected in eight of the isolates when conjugation experiments were performed with E. coli DH5 as recipient strain. The transfer frequency ranged from 4x10(-4) to 6x10(-2) transconjugants per recipient cell. This study shows that the enteric commensals of domestic animals may be considered as a reservoir of integron-containing transmissible plasmids and gene cassettes that might be transferable to the pathogens of swine and to important zoonotic bacteria associated with the enteric flora of swine such as Salmonella typhimurium DT104.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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