A molecular basis for human hypersensitivity to aminoglycoside antibiotics

Nucleic Acids Res. 1993 Sep 11;21(18):4174-9. doi: 10.1093/nar/21.18.4174.


We have investigated the distribution of mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in a rare maternally transmitted genetic trait that causes hypersensitivity to aminoglycoside antibiotics, in the hope that a characterization of its molecular basis might provide a molecular and cellular understanding of aminoglycoside-induced deafness (AGD). Here we report that the frequency of a particular mitochondrial DNA polymorphism, 1555G, is associated nonrandomly with aminoglycoside-induced deafness in two Japanese pedigrees, bringing the frequency of this polymorphism to 5 occurrences in 5 pedigrees of AGD, and in 4 of 78 sporadic cases in which deafness was thought to be the result of aminoglycoside exposure; both frequencies are significantly different from the occurrence of this mutation in the hearing population, which was 0 in 414 individuals surveyed. The 1555G polymorphism occurred in none of 34 aminoglycoside-resistant individuals. We propose a specific molecular mechanism for aminoglycoside hypersensitivity in individuals carrying the 1555G polymorphism, based on the three-dimensional structure of the ribosome, in which the 1555G polymorphism favors aminoglycoside binding sterically, by increasing access to the the ribosome cleft.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Base Sequence
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Deafness / chemically induced
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Pedigree
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • RNA, Ribosomal / chemistry


  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Ribosomal