TitleHorizontal transfer of tetracycline resistance among Chlamydia spp. in vitro.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsSuchland, RJ, Sandoz, KM, Jeffrey, BM, Stamm, WE, Rockey, DD
JournalAntimicrob Agents Chemother
Date Published2009 Nov
KeywordsChlamydia, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Gene Transfer, Horizontal, Ofloxacin, Recombination, Genetic, Rifampin, Tetracycline Resistance

There are no examples of stable tetracycline resistance in clinical strains of Chlamydia trachomatis. However, the swine pathogen Chlamydia suis is commonly tetracycline resistant, both in America and in Europe. In tested U.S. strains, this resistance is mediated by a genomic island carrying a tet(C) allele. In the present study, the ability of C. suis to mobilize tet(C) into other chlamydial species was examined. Differently antibiotic resistant strains of C. suis, C. trachomatis, and Chlamydia muridarum were used in coculture experiments to select for multiply antibiotic resistant progeny. Coinfection of mammalian cells with a naturally occurring tetracycline-resistant strain of C. suis and a C. muridarum or C. trachomatis strain containing selected mutations encoding rifampin (rifampicin) or ofloxacin resistance readily produced doubly resistant recombinant clones that demonstrated the acquisition of tetracycline resistance. The resistance phenotype in the progeny from a C. trachomatis L2/ofl(R)-C. suis R19/tet(R) cross resulted from integration of a 40-kb fragment into a single ribosomal operon of a recipient, leading to a merodiploid structure containing three rRNA operons. In contrast, a cross between C. suis R19/tet(R) and C. muridarum MoPn/ofl(R) led to a classical double-crossover event transferring 99 kb of DNA from C. suis R19/tet(R) into C. muridarum MoPn/ofl(R). Tetracycline resistance was also transferred to recent clinical strains of C. trachomatis. Successful crosses were not obtained when a rifampin-resistant Chlamydophila caviae strain was used as a recipient for crosses with C. suis or C. trachomatis. These findings provide a platform for further exploration of the biology of horizontal gene transfer in Chlamydia while bringing to light potential public health concerns generated by the possibility of acquisition of tetracycline resistance by human chlamydial pathogens.

Alternate JournalAntimicrob Agents Chemother
PubMed ID19687238
PubMed Central IDPMC2772348
Grant ListR01 AI048769 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
U19 AI031448 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
AI31448 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
AI48769 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States