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Self-transmissible plasmids in staphylococci that encode resistance to aminoglycosides.

By G L Archer and J L Johnston


High-level resistance to gentamicin, tobramycin, and kanamycin was transferred between staphylococci of the same and different species by filter mating. Resistance and transfer proficiency were mediated by plasmids ranging from 38 to 54 kilobases in size. All of the plasmids encoded intermediate resistance to amikacin and netilmicin and resistance to ethidium bromide; some encoded beta-lactamase production. None of these plasmids carried resistance to other antibiotics or heavy metals. Transfer of antibiotic resistance occurred by a mechanism similar to that of conjugation, because it was DNase resistant, required cell-to-cell contact, and did not appear to involve phage. The participation of phage in transfer appeared to be unlikely because mijtomicin C-induced lysates of donor isolates did not mediate transfer, filter mating transfer proceeded at high frequency between nonlysogenic donor and recipient cells, and transfer of the aminoglycoside resistance plasmid mobilized the transfer of as many as five additional plasmids. All 17 gentamicin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and all 6 Staphylococcus epidermidis isolates obtained from an outbreak of staphylococcal infections in a newborn nursery contained conjugative plasmids, as did all 6 gentamicin-resistant S. aureus isolates from bacteremic adults. However, only 3 of 10 gentamicin-resistant S. epidermidis isolates from colonized cardiac surgery patients and 1 of 2 S. epidermidis isolates from patients with prosthetic valve endocarditis transferred gentamicin resistance by filter mating. The recent increase in nosocomial infections caused by gentamicin-resistant staphylococci may be partially explained by the evolution of self-transmissible plasmids in these isolates

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1983
DOI identifier: 10.1128/aac.24.1.70
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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