Characterization of dihydrofolate reductase genes from trimethoprim- susceptible and trimethoprim-resistant strains of Enterococcus faecalis

Teresa M. Coque, Kavindra V. Singh, George M. Weinstock, Barbara E. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Enterococci are usually susceptible in vitro to trimethoprim; however, high-level resistance (HLR) (MICs, >1,024 μg/ml) has been reported. We studied Enterococcus faecalis DEL, for which the trimethoprim MIC was >1,024 μg/ml. No transfer of resistance was achieved by broth or filter matings. Two different genes that conferred trimethoprim resistance when they were cloned in Escherichia coli (MICs, 128 and >1,024 μg/ml) were studied. One gene that coded for a polypeptide of 165 amino acids (MIC, 128 μg/ml for E. coli) was identical to dfr homologs that we cloned from a trimethoprim- susceptible E. faecalis strain, and it is presumed to be the intrinsic E. faecalis dfr gene (which causes resistance in E. coli when cloned in multiple copies); this gene was designated dfrE. The nucleotide sequence 5' to this dfr gene showed similarity to thymidylate synthetase genes, suggesting that the dfr and thy genes from E. faecalis are located in tandem. The E. faecalis gene that conferred HLR to trimethoprim in E. coli, designated dfrF, codes for a predicted polypeptide of 165 amino acids with 38 to 64% similarity with other dihydrofolate reductases from gram-positive and gram-negative organisms. The nucleotide sequence 5' to dfrF did not show similarity to the thy sequences. A DNA probe for dfrF hybridized under high-stringency conditions only to colony lysates of enterococci for which the trimethoprim MIC was > 1,024 μg/ml; there was no hybridization to plasmid DNA from the strain of origin. To confirm that this gene causes trimethoprim resistance in enterococci, we cloned it into the integrative vector pAT113 and electroporated it into RH110 (E. faecaliS OG1RF::Tn916ΔEm) (trimethoprim MIC, 0.5 μg/ml), which resulted in RH110 derivatives for which the trimethoprim MIC was > 1,024 μg/ml. These results indicate that dfrF is an acquired but probably chromosomally located gene which is responsible for in vitro HLR to trimethoprim in E. faecalis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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