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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1997 Dec;41(12):2621-8.

Cloning and sequence analysis of two copies of a 23S rRNA gene from Helicobacter pylori and association of clarithromycin resistance with 23S rRNA mutations.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


In this study, two identical copies of a 23S-5S gene cluster, which are separately situated within the Helicobacter pylori UA802 chromosome, were cloned and sequenced. Comparison of the DNA sequence of the H. pylori 23S rRNA gene with known sequences of other bacterial 23S rRNA genes indicated that the H. pylori UA802 23S rRNA genes are closely related to those of Campylobacter spp. and therefore belong in the proposed Proteobacteria subdivision. The 5'-terminal nucleotide T or A of the 23S rRNA is close to a Pribnow box which could be a -10 region of the transcription promoter for the 23S rRNA gene, suggesting that a posttranscriptional process is likely not involved in the maturation of the H. pylori 23S rRNA. Clinical isolates of H. pylori resistant to clarithromycin were examined by using natural transformation and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Cross-resistance to clarithromycin and erythromycin, which was transferred by natural transformation from the Cla(r) Ery(r) donor strain H. pylori E to the Cla(s) Ery(s) recipient strain H. pylori UA802, was associated with an single A-to-G transition mutation at position 2142 of both copies of the 23S rRNA in UA802 Cla(r) Ery(r) mutants. The transformation frequency for Cla(r) and Ery(r) was found to be approximately 2 x 10(-6) transformants per viable cell, and the MICs of both clarithromycin and erythromycin for the Cla(r) Ery(r) mutants were equal to those for the donor isolate. Our results confirmed the previous findings that mutations at positions 2142 and 2143 of the H. pylori 23S rRNA gene are responsible for clarithromycin resistance and suggest that acquisition of clarithromycin resistance in H. pylori could also result from horizontal transfer.

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