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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2000 May;44(5):1229-35.

Characterization of the metallo-beta-lactamase determinant of Acinetobacter baumannii AC-54/97 reveals the existence of bla(IMP) allelic variants carried by gene cassettes of different phylogeny.

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Dipartimento di Biologia Molecolare, Sezione di Microbiologia, Università di Siena, I-53100-Siena, Italy.


The metallo-beta-lactamase determinant of Acinetobacter baumannii AC-54/97, a clinical isolate from Italy that was previously shown to produce an enzyme related to IMP-1, was isolated by means of a PCR methodology which targets amplification of gene cassette arrays inserted into class 1 integrons. Sequencing revealed that this determinant was an allelic variant (named bla(IMP-2)) of bla(IMP) found in Japanese isolates and that it was divergent from the latter by 12% of its nucleotide sequence, which evidently had been acquired independently. Similar to bla(IMP), bla(IMP-2) was also carried by an integron-borne gene cassette. However, the 59-base element of the bla(IMP-2) cassette was unrelated to those of the bla(IMP) cassettes found in Japanese isolates, indicating a different phylogeny for the gene cassettes carrying the two allelic variants. Expression of the integron-borne bla(IMP-2) gene in Escherichia coli resulted in a significant decrease in susceptibility to a broad array of beta-lactams (ampicillin, carbenicillin, cephalothin, cefoxitin, ceftazidime, cefepime, and carbapenems). The IMP-2 enzyme was purified from an Escherichia coli strain carrying the cloned determinant, and kinetic parameters were determined with several beta-lactam substrates. Compared to IMP-1, the kinetic parameters of IMP-2 were similar overall with some beta-lactam substrates (cefoxitin, ceftazidime, cefepime, and imipenem) but remarkably different with others (ampicillin, carbenicillin, cephaloridine, and meropenem), revealing a functional significance of at least some of the mutations that differentiate the two IMP variants. Present findings suggest that the environmental reservoir of bla(IMP) alleles could be widespread and raise a question about the global risk of their transfer to clinically relevant species.

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