Nucleotide polymorphism associated with ethambutol resistance in clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Curr Microbiol. 2006 Nov;53(5):401-5. doi: 10.1007/s00284-006-0135-1. Epub 2006 Sep 12.


Ethambutol (EMB) is a first-line drug used for antitubercular therapy in combination with other drugs as recommended by World Health Organization DOTS/DOTS-Plus regimens. EMB is also effective in the treatment of opportunistic mycobacterial infections in patients with human immunodeficiency virus. The emb locus has been considered as a drug target for EMB, and substitutions of codon 306 in Mycobacterium tuberculosis gene embB have been shown to be the most frequent and predictive mutations for EMB resistance. The aim of the present study was to detect embB and embC gene mutations in EMB-resistant clinical isolates. A total of 23 isolates of M. tuberculosis from patients with pulmonary tuberculosis were included in the study. Drug sensitivity was tested by proportion method and E-test. All 23 isolates were EMB resistant. Primers to amplify the embB and embC gene were designed, and polymerase chain reaction products were subjected for sequence analysis. H37Rv standard laboratory strain was used as control. Nucleotide sequencing showed that 16 strains had a mutation in the embB gene. The most common mutation observed in the embB gene was at codon 306, followed by mutations at codons 299 and 378 in 4 and 2 isolates, respectively. Novel mutations have been reported at codons 239, 240, 247, 282, 311, 368, 397, 446, 469, and 471. Sequence analysis of the embC gene showed mutation in 8 isolates at codon 270. Novel mutations in embC have been reported at codons 251 and 254. The most common nucleotide polymorphism in our isolates was at codons 306 and 299 in the embB gene and at codon 270 in the embC gene. A mutation at codon 306 was usually associated with high-level ethambutol resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Ethambutol / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Mutation
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Ethambutol