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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1997 Mar;41(3):540-3.

Characterization of pncA mutations in pyrazinamide-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Pyrazinamide (PZA) is a first-line drug for short-course tuberculosis therapy. Resistance to PZA is usually accompanied by loss of pyrazinamidase (PZase) activity in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. PZase converts PZA to bactericidal pyrazinoic acid, and the loss of PZase activity is associated with PZA resistance. The gene (pncA) encoding the M. tuberculosis PZase has recently been sequenced, and mutations in pncA were previously found in a small number of PZA-resistant M. tuberculosis strains. To further understand the genetic basis of PZA resistance and determine the frequency of PZA-resistant strains having pncA mutations, we analyzed a panel of PZA-resistant clinical isolates and mutants made in vitro. Thirty-three of 38 PZA-resistant clinical isolates had pncA mutations. Among the five strains that did not contain pncA mutations, four were found to be falsely resistant and one was found to be borderline resistant to PZA. The 33 PZA-resistant clinical isolates and 8 mutants made in vitro contained various mutations, including nucleotide substitutions, insertions, or deletions in the pncA gene. The identified mutations were dispersed along the pncA gene, but some degree of clustering of mutations was found at the following regions: Gly132-Thr142, Pro69-Leu85, and Ile5-Asp12. PCR-single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis was shown to be useful for the rapid detection of pncA mutations in the PZA-resistant strains. We conclude that a mutation in the pncA gene is a major mechanism of PZA resistance and that direct sequencing by PCR or SSCP analysis should help to rapidly identify PZA-resistant M. tuberculosis strains.

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