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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2011 Sep;35(5):856-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2011.00283.x. Epub 2011 Jul 4.

Tn916-like genetic elements: a diverse group of modular mobile elements conferring antibiotic resistance.

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1
Department of Microbial Diseases, UCL Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, London, UK.

Abstract

Antibiotic-resistant Gram-positive bacteria are responsible for morbidity and mortality in healthcare environments. Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae can all exhibit clinically relevant multidrug resistance phenotypes due to acquired resistance genes on mobile genetic elements. It is possible that clinically relevant multidrug-resistant Clostridium difficile strains will appear in the future, as the organism is adept at acquiring mobile genetic elements (plasmids and transposons). Conjugative transposons of the Tn916/Tn1545 family, which carry major antibiotic resistance determinants, are transmissible between these different bacteria by a conjugative mechanism during which the elements are excised by a staggered cut from donor cells, converted to a circular form, transferred by cell-cell contact and inserted into recipient cells by a site-specific recombinase. The ability of these conjugative transposons to acquire additional, clinically relevant antibiotic resistance genes importantly contributes to the emergence of multidrug resistance.

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