Molecular genetic analysis of nucleotide polymorphisms associated with ethambutol resistance in human isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Srinivas V. Ramaswamy, Amol G. Amin, Servet Göksel, Charles E. Stager, Shu Jun Dou, Hana El Sahly, Soraya L. Moghazeh, Barry N. Kreiswirth, James M. Musser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

206 Scopus citations


Ethambutol (EMB) is a central component of drug regimens used worldwide for the treatment of tuberculosis. To gain insight into the molecular genetic basis of EMB resistance, approximately 2 Mb of five chromosomal regions with 12 genes in 75 epidemiologically unassociated EMB-resistant and 33 EMB- susceptible Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains isolated from human patients were sequenced. Seventy-six percent of EMB-resistant organisms had an amino acid replacement or other molecular change not found in EMB-susceptible strains. Thirty-eight (51%) EMB-resistant isolates had a resistance- associated mutation in only 1 of the 12 genes sequenced. Nineteen EMB- resistant isolates had resistance-associated nucleotide changes that conferred amino acid replacements or upstream potential regulatory region mutations in two or more genes. Most isolates (68%) with resistance- associated mutations in a single gene had nucleotide changes in embB, a gene encoding an arabinosyltransferase involved in cell wall biosynthesis. The majority of these mutations resulted in amino acid replacements at position 306 or 406 of EmbB. Resistance-associated mutations were also identified in several genes recently shown to be upregulated in response to exposure of M. tuberculosis to EMB in vitro, including genes in the iniA operon. Approximately one-fourth of the organisms studied lacked mutations inferred to participate in EMB resistance, a result indicating that one or more genes that mediate resistance to this drug remain to be discovered. Taken together, the results indicate that there are multiple molecular pathways to the EMB resistance phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-336
Number of pages11
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular genetic analysis of nucleotide polymorphisms associated with ethambutol resistance in human isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this