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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1996 February; 40(2): 307–313.
PMCID: PMC163107

Nucleotide sequence analysis of a gene from Burkholderia (Pseudomonas) cepacia encoding an outer membrane lipoprotein involved in multiple antibiotic resistance.


Antibiotic-resistant Burkholderia (Pseudomonas) cepacia is an important etiologic agent of nosocomial and cystic fibrosis infections. The primary resistance mechanism which has been reported is decreased outer membrane permeability. We previously reported the cloning and characterization of a chloramphenicol resistance determinant from an isolate of B. cepacia from a patient with cystic fibrosis that resulted in decreased drug accumulation. In the present studies we subcloned and sequenced the resistance determinant and identified gene products related to decreased drug accumulation. Additional drug resistances encoded by the determinant include resistances to trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin. Sequence analysis of a 3.4-kb subcloned fragment identified one complete and one partial open reading frame which are homologous with two of three components of a potential antibiotic efflux operon from Pseudomonas aeruginosa (mexA-mexB-oprM). On the basis of sequence data, outer membrane protein analysis, protein expression systems, and a lipoprotein labelling assay, the complete open reading frame encodes an outer membrane lipoprotein which is homologous with OprM. The partial open reading frame shows homology at the protein level with the C terminus of the protein product of mexB. DNA hybridization studies demonstrated homology of an internal mexA probe with a larger subcloned fragment from B. cepacia. The finding of multiple antibiotic resistance in B. cepacia as a result of an antibiotic efflux pump is surprising because it has long been believed that resistance in this organism is caused by impermeability to antibiotics.

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