The Genetic Environment of the cfr Gene and the Presence of Other Mechanisms Account for the Very High Linezolid Resistance of Staphylococcus epidermidis Isolate 426-3147L

LaMarre, J.; Mendes, R.E.; Szal, T.; Schwarz, Stefan GND; Jones, R.N.; Mankin, A.S.

The clinical Staphylococcus epidermidis isolate 426-3147L exhibits an unusually high resistance to linezolid that exceeds 256 μg/ml. The presence of the cfr gene, encoding the RNA methyltransferase targeting an rRNA nucleotide located in the linezolid binding site, accounts for a significant fraction of resistance. The association of cfr with a multicopy plasmid is one of the factors that contribute to its elevated expression. Mapping of the cfr transcription start sites identified the native cfr promoter. Furthermore, analysis of the cfr transcripts in Staphylococcus epidermidis 426-3147L showed that some of them originate from the upstream plasmid-derived promoters whose activity contributes to efficient cfr transcription. The genetic environment of the cfr gene and its idiosyncratic transcription pattern result in increased activity of Cfr methyltransferase, leading to a high fraction of the ribosomes being methylated at A2503 of the 23S rRNA. Curing of the Staphylococcus epidermidis 426-3147L isolate from the cfr-containing plasmid reduced the linezolid MIC to 64 μg/ml, indicating that other determinants contribute to resistance. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed the presence of the C2534T mutation in two of the six 23S rRNA gene alleles as well as the presence of mutations in the genes of ribosomal proteins L3 and L4, which were previously implicated in linezolid resistance. Thus, the combination of resistance mechanisms operating through alteration of the drug target site appears to cause an unusually high level of linezolid resistance in the isolate.

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LaMarre, J. / Mendes, R.E. / Szal, T. / et al: The Genetic Environment of the cfr Gene and the Presence of Other Mechanisms Account for the Very High Linezolid Resistance of Staphylococcus epidermidis Isolate 426-3147L. 2012.

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