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Microb Drug Resist. 1998 Spring;4(1):65-70.

Molecular evolution of rifampicin resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.


Rifampicin resistance has arisen in several different species of bacteria because of alterations to one or more regions in the target of the antibiotic, the beta-subunit of RNA polymerase encoded by rpoB. Nucleotide sequence analysis of a 270 bp fragment of rpoB from 16 clinical rifampicin-susceptible isolates of Streptococcus pneumoniae, 8 clinical rifampicin-resistant isolates, and 3 spontaneous rifampicin-resistant mutants, has revealed that, as with previously examined species, point mutations within the cluster I region of rpoB, at sites encoding Asp516 and HiS526, also confer resistance to rifampicin in this important human pathogen. Moreover, the residues within cluster I, that were altered within the rifampicin-resistant mutants of S. pneumoniae, were in the same position as those previously found to alter in resistant isolates of Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Sequence analysis of rpoB, both from these isolates of S. pneumoniae and from two strains of S. mitis, reveals that, among a number of clinical isolates, resistance to rifampicin in S. pneumoniae has arisen by point mutation. However, the nucleotide sequence of rpoB from one isolate examined suggests that interspecies gene transfer may also have played a role in the evolution of rifampicin-resistance in S. pneumoniae.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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