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Sulfonamide Resistance in Clinical Isolates of Campylobacter jejuni: Mutational Changes in the Chromosomal Dihydropteroate Synthase

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Mechanisms Of Resistance
  • Biology


The characterization of the genetic basis of sulfonamide resistance in Campylobacter jejuni was attempted. The resistance determinant from a sulfonamide-resistant strain of C. jejuni was cloned and was found to show 42% identity with the folP gene (which codes for dihydropteroate synthase, the target of sulfonamides) of the related bacterium Helicobacter pylori. The sequences of the areas surrounding the folP gene in C. jejuni showed similarity to those of the areas surrounding the corresponding gene in H. pylori. The folP gene of C. jejuni, which mediates the resistance, was observed to show particular features when it was compared to other known folP genes. One of these features is the presence of two pairs of direct repeats (15 and 27 bp) within the coding sequence of the gene. Comparison of the C. jejuni folP genes that mediate susceptibility and resistance revealed the occurrence of mutations that changed four amino acid residues. Resistance of C. jejuni to sulfonamides could be associated with one or several of these four mutational substitutions, which all occurred in the five different resistant isolates studied. The codon for one of these changed amino acids was found to be located in the second direct repeat within the coding sequence of the gene. The change made the repeat perfect. The transformation of both the resistance and the susceptibility variants of the gene into an Escherichia coli folP knockout mutant was found to complement the dihydropteroate synthase deficiency, confirming that the characterized sulfonamide resistance determinant codes for the C. jejuni dihydropteroate synthase enzyme. Kinetic measurements established different affinities of sulfonamide for the dihydropteroate synthase enzyme isolated from the resistant and susceptible strains. In conclusion, sulfonamide resistance in C. jejuni was shown to be associated with mutational changes in the chromosomally located gene for dihydropteroate synthase, the target of sulfonamides.

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