Enterococci are intrinsically resistant to low levels of aminoglycosides. We previously selected in vitro and in vivo Enterococcus faecalis with intermediate-level resistance to gentamicin that did not abolish synergism with a cell-wall-active agent (E. Aslangul et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 49:4144-4148, 2005). The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanism of resistance to gentamicin in the 1688-G3 third-step mutant (MIC, 512 μg/ml) of E. faecalis JH2-2. No mutations were found in the genes for L6 ribosomal protein and the four copies of 16S rRNA. Production of a known aminoglycoside-modifying enzyme was unlikely due to the distinct resistance phenotype and absence of the corresponding genes. Efflux was also unlikely since ethidium bromide MICs were similar for JH2-2 and 1688-G3 and since the pump inhibitors reserpine and verapamil had no effect on gentamicin resistance in both strains. To study gentamicin accumulation, we developed a nonisotopic method based on a fluorescent polarization immunoassay. Impaired gentamicin accumulation was observed in 1688-G3 compared to JH2-2 and was only partially reversible by the N,N′-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide (DCCD) uncoupler agent. The lower sensitivity of 1688-G3 to DCCD suggested alteration of the FoF1-ATPase. However, no mutations were detected in the structural genes (atp) for the Fo channel and no difference in transcript levels of atpB and atpE was found between 1688-G3 and JH2-2. Our data are compatible with acquisition of intermediate-level gentamicin resistance by uptake impairment in E. faecalis.
The AdeABC pump of Acinetobacter baumannii BM4454, which confers resistance to various antibiotic classes including aminoglycosides, is composed of the AdeA, AdeB, and AdeC proteins; AdeB is a member of the RND superfamily. The adeA, adeB, and adeC genes are contiguous and adjacent to adeS and adeR, which are transcribed in the opposite direction and which specify proteins homologous to sensors and regulators of two-component systems, respectively (S. Magnet, P. Courvalin, and T. Lambert, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 45:3375-3380, 2001). Analysis by Northern hybridization indicated that the three genes were cotranscribed, although mRNAs corresponding to adeAB and adeC were also present. Cotranscription of the two regulatory genes was demonstrated by reverse transcription-PCR. Inactivation of adeS led to aminoglycoside susceptibility. Transcripts corresponding to adeAB were not detected in susceptible A. baumannii CIP 70-10 but were present in spontaneous gentamicin-resistant mutants obtained in vitro. Analysis of these mutants revealed the substitutions Thr153→Met in AdeS downstream from the putative His-149 site of autophosphorylation, which is presumably responsible for the loss of phosphorylase activity by the sensor, and Pro116→Leu in AdeR at the first residue of the α5 helix of the receiver domain, which is involved in interactions that control the output domain of response regulators. These mutations led to constitutive expression of the pump and, thus, to antibiotic resistance. These data indicate that the AdeABC pump is cryptic in wild A. baumannii due to stringent control by the AdeRS two-component system.
VanD type Enterococcus faecium 10/96A is constitutively resistant to vancomycin and to low levels of teicoplanin by nearly exclusive synthesis of peptidoglycan precursors terminating in d-alanyl-d-lactate (L. M. Dalla Costa, P. E. Reynolds, H. A. Souza, D. C. Souza, M. F. Palepou, and N. Woodford, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 44:3444-3446, 2000). A G184S mutation adjacent to the serine involved in the binding of d-Ala1 in the d-alanine:d-alanine ligase (Ddl) led to production of an impaired Ddl and accounts for the lack of d-alanyl-d-alanine-containing peptidoglycan precursors. The sequence of the vanD gene cluster revealed eight open reading frames. The organization of this operon, assigned to a chromosomal location, was similar to those in other VanD type strains. The distal part encoded the VanHD dehydrogenase, the VanD ligase, and the VanXD dipeptidase, which were homologous to the corresponding proteins in VanD-type strains. Upstream from the structural genes for these proteins was the vanYD gene; a frameshift mutation in this gene resulted in premature termination of the encoded protein and accounted for the lack of penicillin-susceptible d,d-carboxypeptidase activity. Analysis of the translated sequence downstream from the stop codon, but in a different reading frame because of the frameshift mutation, indicated homology with penicillin binding proteins (PBPs) with a high degree of identity with VanYD from VanD-type strains. The 5′ end of the gene cluster contained the vanRD-vanSD genes for a putative two-component regulatory system. Insertion of ISEfa4 in the vanSD gene led to constitutive expression of vancomycin resistance. This new insertion belonged to the IS605 family and was composed of two open reading frames encoding putative transposases of two unrelated insertion sequence elements, IS200 and IS1341.
Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus VRSA-10 was isolated in 2009, whereas VRSA-11A and VRSA-11B were isolated from the same patient in 2010. Growth curves and determination of the nature of the peptidoglycan precursors and of the VanX d,d-dipeptidase activity in the absence and in the presence of vancomycin indicated that vancomycin resistance was inducible in VRSA-10, that VRSA-11A was partially dependent on glycopeptide for growth, and that VRSA-11B was constitutively resistant. Both VRSA-11A and -11B harbored an insertion sequence, ISEf1, at the same locus in the vanX-vanY intergenic region of Tn1546 and an S183A mutation in the chromosomal d-alanyl:d-alanine ligase (Ddl). This substitution has been shown to be responsible for a drastic diminution of the affinity of the enzyme for d-Ala at subsite 1 in Escherichia coli DdlB. VRSA-11B exhibited an additional mutation, P216T, in the transcriptional regulator VanR, most probably associated with constitutive expression of vancomycin resistance. It is thus likely that VRSA-11B is a constitutive derivative of VRSA-11A selected during prolonged vancomycin therapy. Synthesis of peptidoglycan precursors ending in d-Ala-d-lactate was responsible for oxacillin susceptibility of VRSA-11A and VRSA-11B despite the presence of a wild-type mecA gene in both strains.
Multidrug-resistant clinical isolate Klebsiella pneumoniae BM4686 was highly resistant to 4,6-disubstituted 2-deoxystreptamines and to fortimicin. Resistance was due to the presence, on the 40-kb non-self-transferable plasmid pIP849, of the rmtF gene which was cotranscribed with the upstream aac(6′)-Ib gene. The deduced RmtF protein had 25 to 46% identity with members of the N7 G1405 family of aminoglycoside resistance 16S rRNA methyltransferases.
Resistance-nodulation-division efflux system AdeIJK contributes to intrinsic resistance to various drug classes in Acinetobacter baumannii. By whole-genome sequencing, we have identified in clinical isolate BM4587 the adeN gene, located 813 kbp upstream from adeIJK, which encodes a TetR transcriptional regulator. In one-step mutant BM4666 overexpressing adeIJK, the deletion of cytosine 582 (C582) in the 3′ portion of this gene was responsible for a frameshift mutation resulting in the deletion of the seven C-terminal residues. trans-Complementation of this BM4587 derivative with a plasmid expressing adeN restored antibiotic susceptibility to the host associated with the loss of adeJ overexpression. The inactivation of adeN in BM4587 led to a diminished susceptibility to antibiotics that are substrates for AdeIJK and to a 5-fold increase in adeJ expression. Taken together, these results indicate that AdeN represses AdeIJK expression. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) demonstrated that AdeN is constitutively expressed in BM4587 and does not regulate its own expression. Deletion of cytosine 582 and a 394-bp deletion of the 3′ part of adeN were found in independent one-step adeIJK-overexpressing mutants selected from clinical isolates BM4667 and BM4651, respectively. The corresponding alterations were located in the α9 helix, which is known to be involved in dimerization, a process essential for the activity of TetR regulators. The adeN gene was detected in all of the 30 A. baumannii strains tested and in Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, Acinetobacter nosocomialis, and Acinetobacter pittii.
Multidrug-resistant strain Acinetobacter baumannii BM4454 was isolated from a patient with a urinary tract infection. The adeB gene, which encodes a resistance-nodulation-cell division (RND) protein, was detected in this strain by PCR with two degenerate oligodeoxynucleotides. Insertional inactivation of adeB in BM4454, which generated BM4454-1, showed that the corresponding protein was responsible for aminoglycoside resistance and was involved in the level of susceptibility to other drugs including fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, chloramphenicol, erythromycin, trimethoprim, and ethidium bromide. Study of ethidium bromide accumulation in BM4454 and BM4454-1, in the presence or in the absence of carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone, demonstrated that AdeB was responsible for the decrease in intracellular ethidium bromide levels in a proton motive force-dependent manner. The adeB gene was part of a cluster that included adeA and adeC which encodes proteins homologous to membrane fusion and outer membrane proteins of RND-type three-component efflux systems, respectively. The products of two upstream open reading frames encoding a putative two-component regulatory system might be involved in the regulation of expression of the adeABC gene cluster.
The consequences on glycopeptide activity of low-level resistance to vancomycin due to VanE-type resistance were evaluated in vitro and in experimental endocarditis caused by Enterococcus faecalis BM4405 (MICs of vancomycin and teicoplanin: 16 and 0.5 μg/ml, respectively), its susceptible derivative BM4405-1, and susceptible E. faecalis JH2-2. After 24 h of incubation, vancomycin at 8 μg/ml was not active against E. faecalis BM4405 whereas it was bacteriostatic against strains BM4405-1 and JH2-2. Against all three strains, vancomycin at 30 μg/ml and teicoplanin at 8 or 30 μg/ml were bacteriostatic but bactericidal when combined with gentamicin. In rabbits with aortic endocarditis due to VanE-type resistant strain BM4405, treatment with a standard dose of vancomycin generated subinhibitory plasma concentrations (i.e., peak of 36.3 ± 2.1 μg/ml and trough of 6.0 ± 2.2 μg/ml) and led to no significant reduction in mean aortic valve vegetation counts compared to no treatment of control animals. In contrast, a higher dosing regimen of vancomycin (i.e., resulting in a peak of 38.3 ± 5.2 μg/ml and a trough of 15.0 ± 8.3 μg/ml), providing plasma concentrations above the MIC for the entire dosing interval, led to significant and similar activities against all three strains, which were enhanced by combination with gentamicin. Treatment with teicoplanin led to results similar to those obtained with vancomycin at a high dose. No subpopulations with increased resistance to glycopeptides were selected in vitro or in vivo. In conclusion, the use of a high dose of vancomycin was necessary for the treatment of experimental enterococcal endocarditis due to VanE-type strains.
Streptococcus pneumoniae clinical isolate BM4455 was resistant to 16-membered macrolides and to streptogramins. This unusual resistance phenotype was due to an A2062C (Escherichia coli numbering) mutation in domain V of the four copies of 23S rRNA.
Twenty Acinetobacter baumannii strains resistant to various antibiotics were analyzed for integron content and sequences of the amplification products. Sixteen clinical isolates had a class 1 integron, 2 contained an additional class 1 or class 2 integron, but no class 3 integron was detected. Thirteen strains had integrons with a single cassette: aac(3)-Ia (9 strains), ant(2")-Ia (2 strains), or aac(6′)-Ib (2 strains); 1 had aac(6′)-Ib and oxa20 cassettes and an unknown gene; and 1 had an integron containing ant(2")-Ia and an oxa3 cassette truncated by IS6100. The remaining strains harbored class 1 integrons with gene cassettes previously found in Enterobacteriaceae. One integron had a hybrid structure composed of intI2 and the 3′ conserved segment of class 1 integrons. These data indicate that integrons play a major role in multidrug resistance in Acinetobacter.
The activity of gentamicin at various concentrations against two strains of Enterococcus faecalis was investigated in vitro and in a rabbit model of aortic endocarditis. In vitro, gentamicin at 0.5 to 4 times the MIC failed to reduce the number of bacteria at 24 h. Rabbit or human serum dramatically increased gentamicin activity, leading to a ≥3-log10 CFU/ml decrease in bacterial counts when the drug concentration exceeded the MIC. Susceptibility testing in the presence of serum was predictive of in vivo activity, since gentamicin alone significantly reduced the number of surviving bacteria in the vegetations if the peak-to-MIC ratio was greater than 1. However, gentamicin selected resistant mutants in rabbits. The intrinsic activity of gentamicin should be taken into account in evaluation of combinations of gentamicin and cell wall-active agents against enterococci.
Glycopeptide-resistant enterococci of the VanC type synthesize UDP-muramyl-pentapeptide[d-Ser] for cell wall assembly and prevent synthesis of peptidoglycan precursors ending in d-Ala. The vanC cluster of Enterococcus gallinarum BM4174 consists of five genes: vanC-1, vanXYC, vanT, vanRC, and vanSC. Three genes are sufficient for resistance: vanC-1 encodes a ligase that synthesizes the dipeptide d-Ala-d-Ser for addition to UDP-MurNAc-tripeptide, vanXYC encodes a d,d-dipeptidase–carboxypeptidase that hydrolyzes d-Ala-d-Ala and removes d-Ala from UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide[d-Ala], and vanT encodes a membrane-bound serine racemase that provides d-Ser for the synthetic pathway. The three genes are clustered: the start codons of vanXYC and vanT overlap the termination codons of vanC-1 and vanXYC, respectively. Two genes which encode proteins with homology to the VanS-VanR two-component regulatory system were present downstream from the resistance genes. The predicted amino acid sequence of VanRC exhibited 50% identity to VanR and 33% identity to VanRB. VanSC had 40% identity to VanS over a region of 308 amino acids and 24% identity to VanSB over a region of 285 amino acids. All residues with important functions in response regulators and histidine kinases were conserved in VanRC and VanSC, respectively. Induction experiments based on the determination of d,d-carboxypeptidase activity in cytoplasmic extracts confirmed that the genes were expressed constitutively. Using a promoter-probing vector, regions upstream from the resistance and regulatory genes were identified that have promoter activity.
Spectinomycin resistance in clinical isolates of Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae was found to be due to mutations G1064C and C1192U (Escherichia coli numbering) in 16S rRNA genes, respectively.
VanD-type Enterococcus faecium BM4416 was constitutively resistant to vancomycin and to teicoplanin by synthesis of peptidoglycan precursors ending in d-alanyl–d-lactate. Like E. faecium BM4339, the only VanD-type strain described so far, BM4416 produced an impaired d-alanine:d-alanine ligase. Unlike for BM4339, which had a 5-bp insertion in ddl, inactivation of the gene in BM4416 was due to insertion of IS19.
The beta-hemolytic group G Streptococcus clinical isolate BM2721 was resistant to high levels of aminoglycosides by synthesis of AAC(6′)-APH(2"), APH(3′)-III, and ANT(6) modifying enzymes. The corresponding genes were found to be adjacent as the result of a recombination event between Tn4001 and Tn5405, two transposons originating in staphylococci.
The aac(6′)-Iz gene of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia BM2690 encoding an aminoglycoside 6′-N-acetyltransferase was characterized. The gene was identified as a coding sequence of 462 bp corresponding to a protein with a calculated mass of 16,506 Da, a value in good agreement with that of ca. 16,000 found by in vitro coupled transcription-translation. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence indicated that the protein was a member of the major subfamily of aminoglycoside 6′-N-acetyltransferases. The enzyme conferred resistance to amikacin but not to gentamicin, indicating that it was an AAC(6′) of type I. The open reading frame upstream from the aac(6′)-Iz gene was homologous to the fprA gene of Myxococcus xanthus (61% identity), which encodes a putative pyridoxine (pyridoxamine) 5′-phosphate oxidase. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of total DNA from BM2690 and S. maltophilia ATTC 13637 digested with XbaI, DraI, and SpeI followed by hybridization with rRNA and aac(6′)-Iz-specific probes indicated that the gene was located in the chromosome. The aac(6′)-Iz gene was detected by DNA-DNA hybridization in all 80 strains of S. maltophilia tested. The MICs of gentamicin against these strains of S. maltophilia were lower than those of amikacin, netilmicin, and tobramycin, indicating that production of AAC(6′)-Iz contributes to aminoglycoside resistance in S. maltophilia.
Enterococcus faecalis BM4405 was resistant to low levels of vancomycin (MIC, 16 μg/ml) and was susceptible to teicoplanin (MIC, 0.5 μg/ml). No PCR product was obtained when the total DNA of this clinical isolate was used as a template with primers specific for glycopeptide resistance genes vanA, vanB, vanC, and vanD. However, a 604-bp PCR fragment was obtained when V1 and V2 degenerate primers were used and total DNA was digested with HindIII as a template. The product was cloned and sequenced. The deduced amino acid sequence had greater identity (55%) with VanC than with VanA (45%), VanB (43%), or VanD (44%). This was consistent with the fact that BM4405 synthesized peptidoglycan precursors that terminated in d-serine residues. After induction with vancomycin, weak d,d-dipeptidase and penicillin-insensitive d,d-carboxypeptidase activities were detected in cytoplasmic extracts of BM4405, whereas a serine racemase activity was found in the membrane preparation. This new type of acquired glycopeptide resistance was named VanE.
Three of five natural plasmids carrying a wild-type vanA gene cluster did not confer LY333328 glycopeptide resistance on Enterococcus faecalis JH2-2 (MIC = 2 μg/ml). The two remaining plasmids conferred resistance to the drug (MIC, 8 μg/ml). The vanB gene cluster did not confer resistance to LY333328, since this antibiotic was not an inducer. Mutations in the vanSB sensor gene that allowed induction by teicoplanin or constitutive expression of the vanB cluster led to LY333328 resistance (MIC, 8 to 16 μg/ml). Overproduction of the VanH, VanA, and VanX proteins for d-alanyl-d-lactate (d-Ala-d-Lac) synthesis and d-Ala-d-Ala hydrolysis was sufficient for resistance to LY333328 (MIC, 16 μg/ml). Mutations in the host d-Ala:d-Ala ligase contributed to LY333328 resistance in certain VanA- and VanB-type strains, but the MICs of the antibiotic did not exceed 16 μg/ml. Addition of d-2-hydroxybutyrate in the culture medium of mutants that did not produce the VanH d-lactate dehydrogenase led to incorporation of this d-2-hydroxy acid at the C-terminal ends of the peptidoglycan precursors and to LY333328 resistance (MIC, 64 μg/ml). The vanZ gene of the vanA cluster conferred resistance to LY333328 (MIC, 8 μg/ml) by an unknown mechanism. These data indicate that VanA- and VanB-type enterococci may acquire moderate-level resistance to LY333328 (MIC ≤ 16 μg/ml) in a single step by various mechanisms.
Letters of the English alphabet have heretofore been used to name tetracycline resistance determinants. Since all 26 letters have now been used, a nomenclature employing numerals is recommended for future determinants, and one laboratory has offered to coordinate the assignment of numerals.
The sequences of the blaTEM genes encoding TEM-20, TEM-21, TEM-22, and TEM-29 extended-spectrum β-lactamases were determined. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequences indicated that TEM-20 and TEM-29 were derived from TEM-1 and that TEM-21 and TEM-22 were derived from TEM-2. The substitutions involved were Ser-238 and Thr-182 for TEM-20; His-164 for TEM-29; Lys-104, Arg-153, and Ser-238 for TEM-21; and Lys-104, Gly-237, and Ser-238 for TEM-22. The promoter region of the blaTEM-22 gene was identical to that of blaTEM-3. High-level production of TEM-20 could result from a 135-bp deletion which combined the −35 region of the Pa promoter with the −10 region of the P3 promoter and a G→T transition in the latter motif.
The activity of vancomycin and teicoplanin combined with gentamicin was investigated in vitro against strains of Enterococcus faecalis resistant to vancomycin and susceptible to teicoplanin (VanB type) and against mutants that had acquired resistance to teicoplanin by three different mechanisms. In vitro, gentamicin selected mutants with two- to sixfold increases in the level of resistance to this antibiotic at frequencies of 10−6 to 10−7. Teicoplanin selected teicoplanin-resistant mutants at similar frequencies. Both mutations were required to abolish the activity of the gentamicin-teicoplanin combination. As expected, simultaneous acquisition of the two types of mutations was not observed. In therapy with gentamicin or teicoplanin alone, each selected mutants in three of seven rabbits with aortic endocarditis due to VanB-type E. faecalis BM4275. The vancomycin-gentamicin combination selected mutants that were resistant to gentamicin and to the combination. In contrast, the teicoplanin-gentamicin regimen prevented the emergence of mutants resistant to one or both components of the combination. These results suggest that two mutations are also required to suppress the in vivo activity of the teicoplanin-gentamicin combination.
The sequences of the promoter regions and of the structural genes for 13 penicillinase, extended-spectrum, and inhibitor-resistant TEM-type β-lactamases have been determined, and an updated blaTEM gene nomenclature is proposed.
Three vancomycin-dependent clinical isolates of Enterococcus faecalis of the VanB type were studied by determining (i) the sequence of the ddl gene encoding the host d-Ala:d-Ala ligase and the vanSB-vanRB genes specifying the two-component regulatory system that activates transcription of the vanB operon, (ii) the level of expression of resistance genes by using dd-dipeptidase activity as a reporter, and (iii) the proportions of the peptidoglycan precursors synthesized. Each strain had a mutation in ddl leading to an amino acid substitution (D295 to V; T316 to I) or deletion (DAK251-253 to E) at invariant positions in d-Ala:d-Ala, d-Ala:d-Lac, and d-Ala:d-Ser ligases. These mutations resulted in impaired host d-Ala:d-Ala ligases since only precursors terminating in d-Ala-d-Lac were synthesized under vancomycin-inducing conditions. Two types of vancomycin-independent revertants of one isolate were obtained in vitro after growth in the absence of vancomycin: (i) vancomycin-resistant, teicoplanin-susceptible mutants had a 6-bp insertion in the host ddl gene, causing the E251-to-EYK change that restored d-Ala:d-Ala ligase activity, (ii) constitutive vancomycin-resistant, teicoplanin-resistant mutants had substitutions (S232 to F or E247 to K) in the vicinity of the autophosphorylation site of the VanSB sensor and produced exclusively precursors ending in d-Ala-d-Lac. Vancomycin- and teicoplanin-dependent mutants obtained by growth in the presence of teicoplanin had an 18-bp deletion in VanSB, affecting residues 402 to 407 and overlapping the G2 ATP binding domain. The rapid emergence of vancomycin-independent revertants in vitro suggests that interruption of vancomycin therapy may not be sufficient to cure patients infected with vancomycin-dependent enterococci.