Zwittermicin A is a novel aminopolyol antibiotic produced by Bacillus cereus that is active against diverse bacteria and lower eukaryotes (L.A. Silo-Suh, B.J. Lethbridge, S.J. Raffel, H. He, J. Clardy, and J. Handelsman, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60:2023-2030, 1994). To identify a determinant for resistance to zwittermicin A, we constructed a genomic library from B. cereus UW85, which produces zwittermicin A, and screened transformants of Escherichia coli DH5alpha, which is sensitive to zwittermicin A, for resistance to zwittermicin A. Subcloning and mutagenesis defined a genetic locus, designated zmaR, on a 1.2-kb fragment of DNA that conferred zwittermicin A resistance on E. coli. A DNA fragment containing zmaR hybridized to a corresponding fragment of genomic DNA from B. cereus UW85. Corresponding fragments were not detected in mutants of B. cereus UW85 that were sensitive to zwittermicin A, and the plasmids carrying zmaR restored resistance to the zwittermicin A-sensitive mutants, indicating that zmaR was deleted in the zwittermicin A-sensitive mutants and that zmaR is functional in B. cereus. Sequencing of the 1.2-kb fragment of DNA defined an open reading frame, designated ZmaR. Neither the nucleotide sequence nor the predicted protein sequence had significant similarity to sequences in existing databases. Cell extracts from an E. coli strain carrying zmaR contained a 43.5-kDa protein whose molecular mass and N-terminal sequence matched those of the protein predicted by the zmaR sequence. The results demonstrate that we have isolated a gene, zmaR, that encodes a zwIttermicin A resistance determinant that is functional in both B. cereus and E. coli
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