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Chromosomally mediated beta-lactamase production and gentamicin resistance in Enterococcus faecalis.

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  • Biology
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Abstract

We have analyzed four distinct strains of multiply resistant, beta-lactamase-producing enterococci isolated during an outbreak of colonization with these strains on an infant-toddler surgical ward at The Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass. All four strains were resistant to erythromycin, penicillin, and tetracycline and to high levels of gentamicin and streptomycin. One strain was also resistant to chloramphenicol. Plasmid profiles revealed four different plasmid patterns, with the number of identified plasmids ranging from zero to three. The gene coding for beta-lactamase production could be transferred at low frequency (less than 10(-8)) to an enterococcal recipient from one strain in conjunction with all of the other resistance determinants. Probes derived from the staphylococcal beta-lactamase gene and gentamicin resistance gene failed to hybridize with any of the detectable plasmids, but both genes were present on restriction fragments of genomic DNA in all strains. Our results indicate that the beta-lactamase genes and gentamicin resistance genes in these strains are integrated into the bacterial chromosome. The cotransmissibility of the resistance determinants raises the possibility of their incorporation into a multiresistance transposable genetic element.

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