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Mercuric reductase activity and evidence of broad-spectrum mercury resistance among clinical isolates of rapidly growing mycobacteria.

By V A Steingrube, R J Wallace, L C Steele and Y J Pang


Resistance to mercury was evaluated in 356 rapidly growing mycobacteria belonging to eight taxonomic groups. Resistance to inorganic Hg2+ ranged from 0% among the unnamed third biovariant complex of Mycobacterium fortuitum to 83% among M. chelonae-like organisms. With cell extracts and 203Hg(NO3)2 as the substrate, mercuric reductase (HgRe) activity was demonstrable in six of eight taxonomic groups. HgRe activity was inducible and required NADPH or NADH and a thiol donor for optimai activity. Species with HgRe activity were also resistant to organomercurial compounds, including phenylmercuric acetate. Attempts at intraspecies and intragenus transfer of HgRe activity by conjugation or transformation were unsuccessful. Mercury resistance is common in rapidly growing mycobacteria and appears to function via the same inducible enzyme systems already defined in other bacterial species. This system offers potential as a strain marker for epidemiologic investigations and for studying genetic systems in rapidly growing mycobacteria

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1991
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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