BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Gonococcal fluoroquinolone resistance is now a significant problem in Japan. We generated gonococcal mutants resistant to norfloxacin in vitro from norfloxacin sensitive isolates and analysed the contribution of three known mechanisms of quinolone resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Three clinical isolates of N gonorrhoeae susceptible to norfloxacin were exposed to increasing concentrations of norfloxacin. To identify mutations in the gyrA and parC genes of the gonococcal mutants, the quinolone resistance determining regions of the gyrA and parC genes were polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified and the PCR products were directly sequenced. Norfloxacin accumulation in the gonococcal cells was also measured. RESULTS: The MICs of norfloxacin for three variants containing a single GyrA mutation were 16-fold higher than that for their parent isolates. A variant showing reduced norfloxacin accumulation in the cells, without mutations in the GyrA or ParC proteins, was also less sensitive to norfloxacin, with a 16-fold increase in the MIC, compared with the parent strain. The MIC of norfloxacin for a variant which contained a single GyrA mutation with reduced norfloxacin accumulation in the cells was 128-fold higher than for the parent strain. A variant containing mutations in both GyrA and ParC proteins with reduced accumulation of norfloxacin in the cells showed a 256-fold increase in the norfloxacin MIC compared with the parent strain. There was no variant containing a ParC mutation without the simultaneous presence of a GyrA mutation. CONCLUSIONS: The results from this study suggest that not only a mutation in the gyrA gene but also reduced drug accumulation in cells contributes to the development of fluoroquinolone a mutation in the gyrA gene contributes to a high level of fluoroquinolone resistance in gonococci with decreases in accumulation in cells having an additional but lesser effect.
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