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Nucleic Acids Res. 1993 Sep 11;21(18):4174-9.

A molecular basis for human hypersensitivity to aminoglycoside antibiotics.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90033.


We have investigated the distribution of mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in a rare maternally transmitted genetic trait that causes hypersensitivity to aminoglycoside antibiotics, in the hope that a characterization of its molecular basis might provide a molecular and cellular understanding of aminoglycoside-induced deafness (AGD). Here we report that the frequency of a particular mitochondrial DNA polymorphism, 1555G, is associated nonrandomly with aminoglycoside-induced deafness in two Japanese pedigrees, bringing the frequency of this polymorphism to 5 occurrences in 5 pedigrees of AGD, and in 4 of 78 sporadic cases in which deafness was thought to be the result of aminoglycoside exposure; both frequencies are significantly different from the occurrence of this mutation in the hearing population, which was 0 in 414 individuals surveyed. The 1555G polymorphism occurred in none of 34 aminoglycoside-resistant individuals. We propose a specific molecular mechanism for aminoglycoside hypersensitivity in individuals carrying the 1555G polymorphism, based on the three-dimensional structure of the ribosome, in which the 1555G polymorphism favors aminoglycoside binding sterically, by increasing access to the the ribosome cleft.

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