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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1997 May;281(2):992-7.

Expression of hygR in transgenic mice causes resistance to toxic effects of hygromycin B in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Toxicology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Aminoglycoside antibiotics are indispensable for treatment of serious bacterial infections, and despite careful attention to dosage regimens, nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity still cause concern. In the present study, we tested whether side effects of aminoglycoside therapy could be limited by expression of prokaryotic genes of antibiotic resistance in vivo. We characterized the acute and tissue-specific toxicity of hygromycin B in transgenic mice bearing the hygromycin B phosphotransferase (hygR) gene under control of a constitutive promoter. We characterized the tissue-specific expression of hygR mRNA and also investigated the acute toxicity of hygromycin B in hygR and wild-type mice. The hygR mRNA reached its highest levels in brain and reached intermediate levels in spleen, muscle, kidney, liver and testis. The lowest levels were detected in heart and lungs. The hygR expression in transgenic animals caused an 89-fold increase in the approximate lethal dose of hygromycin B compared with wild-type mice. Serum biochemical analysis of hygR and wild-type mice treated with lethal doses of hygromycin B indicated liver and kidney damage measured as ALT, AST and BUN. On the morphological level, these changes led to acute tubular nephrosis in wild-type mice and acute liver damage in hygR mice. Our results show that constitutive expression of the bacterial hygR gene in transgenic mice in vivo confers resistance to hygromycin B.

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