Background: Amoxicillin-based therapies are highly effective for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infections, but the efficacy may decrease as the incidence of amoxicillin resistance is increasing. So far, the molecular mechanism underlying stable amoxicillin resistance has only been identified for a few naturally occurring amoxicillin-resistant (AmxR) H. pylori isolates, and is mediated by mutations in penicillin-binding protein 1A (PBP1A). In this study the molecular mechanism underlying amoxicillin resistance of seven additional AmxR H. pylori isolates has been established. Methods: H. pylori strain 26695 (minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) 0.125 mg/l) was naturally transformed with total DNA and pbp1A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products from the seven AmxR H. pylori isolates, and the MIC of amoxicillin and pbp1A gene sequence of the obtained AmxR transformants were determined. Results: Replacement of the wild-type pbp1A gene of H. pylori reference strain 26695 by the pbp1A gene of the AmxR H. pylori isolates resulted in an increased MIC (0.5-1.0 mg/l). Sequence analysis of the smallest PBP1A fragments able to transfer the resistance indicated that several amino acid substitutions in or adjacent to the second (SKN 402-404) and third (KTG555-557) conserved penicillin-binding protein motifs (PBP-motifs) mediate amoxicillin resistance in H. pylori. This was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis using oligonucleotides that contained defined mutations in or adjacent to these PBP-motifs. Conclusion: In naturally occurring AmxR H. pylori isolates, amoxicillin resistance is mediated by various mutational changes located in or adjacent to the second and third PBP-motifs of the PBP1A. Although we cannot exclude the role of the other genes in amoxicillin resistance, it is likely that multiple mutational changes in the PBP1A gene are the predominant cause of amoxicillin resistance in H. pylori. The findings of this study currently preclude the rapid detection of amoxicillin resistance in H. pylori by molecular tests.

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Helicobacter (Oxford)
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Gerrits, M.M, Godoy, A.P.O, Kuipers, E.J, Ribeiro, M.L, Stoof, J, Mendonça, S, … Kusters, J.G. (2006). Multiple mutations in or adjacent to the conserved penicillin-binding protein motifs of the penicillin-binding protein 1A confer amoxicillin resistance to Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter (Oxford), 11(3), 181–187. doi:10.1111/j.1523-5378.2006.00398.x