Journal Article

Horizontal Genetic Exchange, Evolution, and Spread of Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria

Martin C. J. Maiden

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 27, issue Supplement_1, pages S12-S20
Published in print August 1998 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online August 1998 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/514917
Horizontal Genetic Exchange, Evolution, and Spread of Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria

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Some transformable bacteria have acquired target-mediated antibiotic resistance by horizontal genetic exchange of fragments of chromosomal genes. The resistant strains express variants of the antibiotic target that are metabolically active but exhibit a lowered affinity for the antibiotic. The alleles encoding these resistant proteins are mosaics comprising DNA derived from the host and other bacteria, often members of a different species. Examples include penicillin-resistant penicillinbinding proteins (PBPs) in Streptococcus pneumoniae and the pathogenic Neisseria species and sulfonamide-resistant dihydropterate synthase in Neisseria meningitidis. Distinct mosaic alleles encoding antibiotic resistance have arisen on multiple occasions, indicating the mobility of chromosomal genes in these species. Mosaic genes can arise at any chromosomal locus, and S. pneumoniae organisms with high-level penicillin resistance have acquired mosaic PBP genes at three separate pbp loci. Furthermore, horizontal genetic exchange permits movement of alleles among bacterial lineages, increasing the opportunities for the spread of antibiotic resistance.

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Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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