Various pathways leading to the acquisition of antibiotic resistance by natural transformation

Mob Genet Elements. 2012 Nov 1;2(6):257-260. doi: 10.4161/mge.23089.


Natural transformation can lead to exchange of DNA between taxonomically diverse bacteria. In the case of chromosomal DNA, homology-based recombination with the recipient genome is usually necessary for heritable stability. In our recent study, we have shown that natural transformation can promote the transfer of transposons, IS elements, and integrons and gene cassettes, largely independent of the genetic relationship between the donor and recipient bacteria. Additional results from our study suggest that natural transformation with species-foreign DNA might result in the uptake of a wide range of DNA fragments; leading to changes in the antimicrobial susceptibility profile and contributing to the generation of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria.

Keywords: Acinetobacter; class 1 integrons; gene cassettes; homologous recombination; mosaic genes; natural transformation; transposition; transposons.