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Arch Microbiol. 2000 Mar;173(3):213-9.

Paradoxical effect of inserting, in Enterococcus faecalis penicillin-binding protein 5, an amino acid box responsible for low affinity for penicillin in Enterococcus faecium.

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Dipartimento di Patologia, Università di Verona, Italy.


Penicillin-binding proteins 5 (PBP5s) of enterococci are structurally and immunologically related proteins that are characterized by their low affinity for penicillin. For this reason, they are mainly involved in penicillin resistance, due essentially to their ability to take over the function of all other PBPs already bound and inhibited by the beta-lactam. It has been demonstrated that penicillin resistance in enterococci is acquired either by overproduction of PBP5 or by the presence of specific amino acid sequences in the protein that further decrease the affinity for penicillin. In particular, a specific amino acid box (ANNGA) previously identified in Enterococcus faecium is responsible for the high penicillin resistance displayed by this species. Here, we describe the insertion of the PBP5 amino acid box ANNGA in Enterococcus faecalis, an enterococcal species usually more sensitive to penicillin, by site-directed mutagenesis. Mutagenized PBP5 was re-introduced into a pbp5 mutant of E. faecalis obtained by insertion of transposon Tn916. Data indicate that this amino acid box brings about no reduction in penicillin sensitivity in the recipient E. faecalis strain, but, paradoxically, dramatically lowers the penicillin minimal inhibitory concentration caused by the native PBP5. We deduce that, although enterococcal PBP5s are a family of closely related proteins as far as biological function is concerned, differences exist in their three-dimensional structure that affect penicillin affinity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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