Mechanism of Resistance to Macrolide-Lincosamide-Streptogramin Antibiotics in Streptococcus thermophilus

  •  George Somkuti    
  •  John Renye    
  •  Dennis Steinberg    


Resistance to macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin (MLS) group antibiotics in the dairy bacterium Streptococcus thermophilus (ST) is documented but the mechanism of resistance has not been elucidated. MIC values for erythromycin (Erm), azithromycin (Azm), tylosin (Tyl), spiramycin (Spm), pristinamycin (Prm) and virginiamycin S (Vir) were determined by the disk diffusion method. PCR products were obtained with primer pairs for the L4, L22 and 23S rDNA (domain V) genes. The sequencing results ruled out mutations in the L4 and L22 ribosomal proteins and the presence of rRNA methylase, efflux, and inactivating genes. However, sequencing of domain V in each of the six ribosomal alleles detected by EcoRI/I-CeuI digestion in ST mutants identified three types of mutations that led to MLS resistance. Type A mutants, induced by Erm, had high resistance to 14- and 15-membered ring macrolides (Erm, Azm) and streptogramin B antibiotics (Prm, Vir), moderate resistance to 16-membered ring macrolides (Tyl, Spm), but remained susceptible to lincomycin. In Type B mutants, also induced by Erm, resistance was high to Erm, Tyl and Spm, and moderate to lincomycin but sensitivity was retained to Prm. Type C mutants, induced by Prm, showed high resistance to 16-membered ring macrolides but remained sensitive to Erm, Azm and lincomycin. The three identifiable resistance patterns were apparently due to point mutations in domain V of the 23S rRNA gene, resulting in three phenotypes among resistant S. thermophilus isolates. Type A phenotype mutants had a C2611G mutation in five of the six ribosomal alleles, Type B phenotypes had a A2058G mutation in five alleles, and Type C variants had a A2062C mutation in all six alleles. Resistance to MLS antibiotics in S. thermophilus was inducible by 14- and 15-membered ring macrolides and streptogramin B type antibiotics but not by 16-membered ring macrolides or lincosamides.

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