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Microb Drug Resist. 2000 Spring;6(1):49-57.

Typeability of Tn1546-like elements in vancomycin-resistant enterococci using long-range PCRs and specific analysis of polymorphic regions.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University and University Hospital of Tromsø, Norway.


Molecular subtyping of the VanA-type resistance element Tn1546 in an international collection of 81 genomically diverse vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) from human, animal, and environmental reservoirs was evaluated by restriction analysis of long-range PCR amplicons (PCR-RFLP), single gene PCRs, Southern blot analysis of genomic digests, and partial DNA sequencing. A dominant Tn1546-RFLP in accordance with Enterococcus faecium BM4147 was detected in 43 of the 49 long-range PCR positive strains from ecologically diverse sources in several European countries and the US. Tn1546-like elements from the 32 (40%) long-range PCR negative strains were typed into 17 different groups by single-gene PCRs and Southern blot analysis of the ORF1, ORF2, vanS-vanH, vanX-vanY, and vanZ regions. All these isolates showed deletions in the ORF1 and/or vanZ primer binding regions explaining the failure of long-range PCR amplification. Enlarged vanS-vanH or vanX-vanY fragments were detected in 7 (22%) and 16 (50%) of the long-range PCR negative strains, respectively. The enlarged vanS-vanH regions of five clinical isolates from the US (n = 2), Ireland (n = 2), and Norway (n = 1) contained identical IS1251-like insertions indicating intercontinental spread of the vanA gene cluster. Intergenic vanS-vanH IS1251 insertions have so far not been reported in European studies. Structural rearrangements of Tn1546-like elements may represent single recombination events that can serve as fingerprints in the molecular examination of vanA gene cluster evolution and transmission. The optimal strategy for such analysis has yet to be determined. Two alternative long-range PCRs with subsequent RFLP analysis were successfully used to type the majority of vanA gene clusters in an ecologically and geographically heterogeneous VRE strain collection, but failed to detect and type a group of variant Tn1546-like elements truncated in the left-end ORF1/ORF2 region. Further subtyping of such variants should specifically target the polymorphic vanS-vanH and vanX-vanY regions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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