Author(s): Alcaide F, Pfyffer GE, Telenti A
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Abstract The mycobacterial embCAB operon encodes arabinosyl transferases, putative targets of the antimycobacterial agent ethambutol (EMB). Mutations in embB lead to resistance to EMB in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The basis for natural, intrinsic resistance to EMB in nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) is not known; neither is the practical implication of resistance to EMB in the absence of embB mutations in M. tuberculosis well understood. The conserved embB resistance-determining region (ERDR) of a collection of 13 strains of NTM and 12 EMB-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis was investigated. Genotypes were correlated with drug susceptibility phenotypes. High-level natural resistance to EMB (MIC, . or =64 microg/ml) was associated with a variant amino acid motif in the ERDR of M. abscessus, M. chelonae, and M. leprae. Transfer of the M. abscessus emb allele to M. smegmatis resulted in a 500-fold increase in the MICs. In M. tuberculosis, embB mutations were associated with MICs of > or =20 microg/ml while resistance not associated with an ERDR mutation generally resulted in MICs of < or =10 microg/ml. These data further support the notion that the emb region determines intrinsic and acquired resistance to EMB and might help in the reassessment of the current recommendations for the screening and treatment of infections with EMB-resistant M. tuberculosis and NTM.
This article was published in Antimicrob Agents Chemother
and referenced in Mycobacterial Diseases