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Transfer of penicillin resistance between Neisseriae in microcosm
Orús Pérez, Pilar; Viñas, Miquel
Universitat de Barcelona
Horizontal gene transfer between commensal and pathogenic Neisseriae is the mechanism proposed to explain how pathogenic species acquire altered portions of the penA gene, which encodes penicillin binding protein 2. These changes resulted in a moderately penicillin-resistant phenotype in the meningococci, whose frequency of isolation in Spain increased at the end of the 1980s. Little has been published about the possibility of this gene transfer in nature or about its simulation in the laboratory. We designed a simple microcosm, formed by solid and liquid media, that partially mimics the upper human respiratory tract. In this microcosm, penicillin-resistant commensal strains and the fully susceptible meningococcus were co-cultivated. The efficiency of gene transfer between the strains depended on the phase of bacterial growth and the conditions of culture. Resistance of penicillin was acquired in different steps irrespective of the source of the DNA. The presence of DNase in the medium had no effect on gene transfer, but it was near zero when nicked DNA was used. Cell-to-cell contact or membrane blebs could explain these results. The analysis of sequences of the transpeptidase domain of PBP2 from transformants, and from donor and recipient strains demonstrated that the emergence of moderately resistant transformants was due to genetic exchange between the co-cultivated strains. Finally, mechanisms other than penA modification could be invoked to explain decreased susceptibility
Resistència als medicaments
Neissèria de la meningitis
Drug resistance
Neisseria meningitidis
(c) Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 2000
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

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