Antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria is often due to the acquisition of resistance genes from a shared pool. In multiresistant isolates these genes, together with associated mobile elements, may be found in complex conglomerations on plasmids or on the chromosome. Analysis of available sequences reveals that these multiresistance regions (MRR) are modular, mosaic structures composed of different combinations of components from a limited set arranged in a limited number of ways. Components common to different MRR provide targets for homologous recombination, allowing these regions to evolve by combinatorial evolution, but our understanding of this process is far from complete. Advances in technology are leading to increasing amounts of sequence data, but currently available automated annotation methods usually focus on identifying ORFs and predicting protein function by homology. In MRR, where the genes are often well characterized, the challenge is to identify precisely which genes are present and to define the boundaries of complete and fragmented mobile elements. This review aims to summarize the types of mobile elements involved in multiresistance in Gram-negative bacteria and their associations with particular resistance genes, to describe common components of MRR and to illustrate methods for detailed analysis of these regions.
© 2011 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.