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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1991 Oct;35(10):1989-96.

Characterization of erythromycin resistance in Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


The mechanism of resistance to erythromycin, the drug of choice in the treatment of campylobacter gastroenteritis, was investigated. Erythromycin resistance (MICs, greater than 1,024 micrograms/ml) in three clinical isolates of Campylobacter jejuni and one C. coli isolate was determined to be constitutive and chromosomally mediated. In vivo protein synthesis in erythromycin-susceptible C. jejuni and C. coli strains was completely inhibited by low levels of erythromycin (5 micrograms/ml), whereas a high concentration of the antibiotic (100 micrograms/ml) had no effect on protein synthesis in erythromycin-resistant strains. Biological assays showed that extracellular degradation of erythromycin was not responsible for erythromycin resistance in strains of Campylobacter species. The rates and amounts of uptake of [14C]erythromycin by resistant and susceptible campylobacter cells were determined to be similar. Binding assays with purified campylobacter 70S ribosomes as well as 50S ribosomal subunits showed that those from erythromycin-resistant strans bound much less [14C]erythromycin than did those from susceptible strains. Genomic DNA from C. coli UA585 was used to transform erythromycin resistance to C. coli UA417. The erythromycin resistance marker was associated with a 240-kb SmaI fragment of the C. coli UA585 genome. Our results rule out erythromycin inactivation or efflux and are not consistent with the production of an RNA methylase, although they are consistent with a mutational mechanism of resistance due to a change in a ribosomal protein gene. This study constitutes a detailed biochemical and genetic characterization of erythromycin resistance in Campylobacter species.

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