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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

NorA plasmid resistance to fluoroquinolones: role of copy number and norA frameshift mutations.

Staphylococcus aureus NorA protein is a transmembrane multidrug efflux pump that confers low-level resistance to hydrophilic fluoroquinolones. The norA gene promoter is active in Escherichia coli HB101. We have examined the genetic basis of norA-mediated resistance in E. coli by introducing a wild-type norA gene into HB101 in plasmid pCL1921, pBR322, or pUC18 exhibiting copy numbers that spanned a 22-fold range. Increased ciprofloxacin resistance correlated with norA transcript levels seen by Northern (RNA) analysis. Thus, contrary to some reports, a wild-type norA gene confers fluoroquinolone resistance in E. coli in a copy-number-dependent fashion and does not require mutational activation. Interestingly, a multicopy pUC19norA derivative gave transformants exhibiting a range of resistance phenotypes. The norA gene of one transformant carried a single base deletion (ATACAAT to AACAAT; the deleted base is underlined) in the putative--10 Pribnow box resulting in a promoter down-regulatory mutation; a second plasmid had acquired a frameshift producing a null mutation at codon 112. These mutations override the dual resistance-growth-inhibitory phenotype of high-copy-number norA plasmids. The results have implications for using the standard E. coli HB101 system to assess NorA function and potentially for plasmid-borne transmission of norA-mediated drug resistance.[1]


  1. NorA plasmid resistance to fluoroquinolones: role of copy number and norA frameshift mutations. Sun, L., Sreedharan, S., Plummer, K., Fisher, L.M. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. (1996) [Pubmed]
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