Noncanonical Vancomycin Resistance Cluster from Desulfitobacterium hafniense Y51
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The glycopeptide vancomycin is a drug of last resort for infection with gram-positive organisms, and three genes are vital to resistance: vanH, vanA, and vanX. These genes are found in a vanHAX cluster, which is conserved across pathogenic bacteria, glycopeptide antibiotic producers, and other environmental bacteria. The genome sequence of the anaerobic, gram-positive, dehalogenating bacterium Desulfitobacterium hafniense Y51 revealed a predicted vanA homolog; however, it exists in a vanAWK-murFX cluster, unlike those of other vancomycin-resistant organisms. Using purified recombinant VanA from D. hafniense Y51, we determined its substrate specificity and found it to have a 42-fold preference for D-lactate over D-alanine, confirming its activity as a D-Ala-D-Lac ligase and its annotation as VanA. Furthermore, we showed that D. hafniense Y51 is highly resistant to vancomycin, with a MIC for growth of 64 microg/ml. Finally, vanA(Dh) is expressed during growth in vancomycin, as demonstrated by reverse transcription-PCR. This finding represents a new glycopeptide antibiotic resistance gene cluster and expands the genetic diversity of resistance to this important class of antibiotic.
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