Earlier studies have shown that the highly penicillin-resistant South African Strains of pneumococci contain altered penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) (S. Zighelboim and A. Tomasz, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 17:434-442, 1980). We now describe a detailed quantitative characterization of the reaction of radioactively labeled penicillin with the PBPs of the penicillin-susceptible and penicillin-resistant pneumococci and several intermediate-resistance-level genetic transformants as well. The altered binding of the antibiotic by the PBPs of resistant cells appears to be due to a combination of two factors: lower drug affinity and change in the cellular amounts of PBPs. No alteration in the rates of deacylation of the penicilloyl-PBPs of the resistant cells was detected
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