Crossing the barrier: evolution and spread of a major class of mosaic pbp2x in Streptococcus pneumoniae, S. mitis and S. oralis

Int J Med Microbiol. 2007 Nov;297(7-8):503-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2007.02.009. Epub 2007 Apr 24.


A paradigm for Streptococcus interspecies gene transfer is represented by the mosaic pbp genes encoding the target enzymes for beta-lactam antibiotics, the penicillin-binding proteins, in Streptococcus pneumoniae. We investigated a collection of oral streptococci from three continents by comprehensive multi-locus sequence typing analysis in order to trace the origin of a mosaic block belonging to a dominant family of mosaic pbp2x implicated in penicillin resistance of S. pneumoniae. One widespread family of mosaic pbp2x occurred in all three distinct clusters of S. pneumoniae, Streptococcus mitis and Streptococcus oralis, documenting independent inter- and intraspecies recombination events. Moreover, potential ancestor genes of this mosaic block could be identified in two penicillin-susceptible S. mitis strains from South Africa and Spain, facilitating the identification of pbp2x mutations relevant for resistance development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crossing Over, Genetic / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Penicillin Resistance / genetics
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Penicillins / pharmacology
  • Streptococcus mitis / drug effects
  • Streptococcus mitis / genetics*
  • Streptococcus oralis / drug effects
  • Streptococcus oralis / genetics*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins
  • Penicillins
  • PBP 2x protein, Streptococcus