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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Jan;79(1):314-21. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02347-12. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

Identification of the enzyme responsible for N-acetylation of norfloxacin by Microbacterium sp. Strain 4N2-2.

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Divisions of Microbiology, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, Arkansas, USA.


Microbacterium sp. 4N2-2, isolated from a wastewater treatment plant, converts the antibacterial fluoroquinolone norfloxacin to N-acetylnorfloxacin and three other metabolites. Because N-acetylation results in loss of antibacterial activity, identification of the enzyme responsible is important for understanding fluoroquinolone resistance. The enzyme was identified as glutamine synthetase (GS); N-acetylnorfloxacin was produced only under conditions associated with GS expression. The GS gene (glnA) was cloned, and the protein (53 kDa) was heterologously expressed and isolated. Optimal conditions and biochemical properties (K(m) and V(max)) of purified GS were characterized; the purified enzyme was inhibited by Mn(2+), Mg(2+), ATP, and ADP. The contribution of GS to norfloxacin resistance was shown by using a norfloxacin-sensitive Escherichia coli strain carrying glnA derived from Microbacterium sp. 4N2-2. The GS of Microbacterium sp. 4N2-2 was shown to act as an N-acetyltransferase for norfloxacin, which produced low-level norfloxacin resistance. Structural and docking analysis identified potential binding sites for norfloxacin at the ADP binding site and for acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) at a cleft in GS. The results suggest that environmental bacteria whose enzymes modify fluoroquinolones may be able to survive in the presence of low fluoroquinolone concentrations.

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