Antibiotic resistance as a stress response: complete sequencing of a large number of chromosomal loci in Staphylococcus aureus strain COL that impact on the expression of resistance to methicillin

Microb Drug Resist. Fall 1999;5(3):163-75. doi: 10.1089/mdr.1999.5.163.


Tn551 inactivation has identified several determinants--fem or auxiliary genes--that, in addition to the mecA gene, are also critical for the expression of high-level and homogeneous resistance to methicillin. Genetic and/or biochemical analysis has shown that of the nearly dozen aux mutations described so far most are in genes involved in cell wall synthesis (murE, pbp2, glmM, glnR, femA/B, llm, etc.) or in complex regulatory functions (sigmaB), suggesting that optimal expression of resistance may involve the cooperative functioning of a number of genes in cell wall metabolism as well as stress response. The exact mechanism of these functions is not known. In an attempt to explore this unusual aspect of methicillin resistance more fully, a Tn551 transposon library, constructed in the background of the highly and homogeneously methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain COL, was screened for all independent insertional mutants in which the level of methicillin resistance of the parental strain (MIC, 1,600 microg/ml) was reduced by at least 15-fold and up to 500-fold. We now describe the sequencing of 21 Tn551-inactivated genes and their vicinities in 23 new auxiliary mutants that have been studied before. Using the inverted polymerase chain reaction (IPCR), we amplified fragments corresponding to the right and left junction of the Tn551 insertions, which were then sequenced by primer walking. The two largest groups of these new auxiliary genes encoded either proteins of unknown functions (6 genes) or showed homology with genes encoding proteins involved with putative sensory/regulatory activities (7 genes: protein kinases, ABC transporters, and a catabolite control protein). Sequencing upstream and downstream allowed the identification of a number of additional open reading frames, some of which may also include functions relevant for the expression of antibiotic resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Hexosyltransferases*
  • Methicillin Resistance / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muramoylpentapeptide Carboxypeptidase / analysis
  • Muramoylpentapeptide Carboxypeptidase / genetics
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins
  • Peptidoglycan / analysis
  • Peptidyl Transferases*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / chemistry
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins
  • Peptidoglycan
  • Peptidyl Transferases
  • Hexosyltransferases
  • Muramoylpentapeptide Carboxypeptidase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AJ131754
  • GENBANK/AJ131755
  • GENBANK/AJ132348
  • GENBANK/Y13639
  • GENBANK/Y14324
  • GENBANK/Y14816
  • GENBANK/Y18630
  • GENBANK/Y18631
  • GENBANK/Y18632
  • GENBANK/Y18635
  • GENBANK/Y18636
  • GENBANK/Y18637
  • GENBANK/Y18638
  • GENBANK/Y18639
  • GENBANK/Y18640
  • GENBANK/Y18641