[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
Streptococcus uberis is an environmental pathogen commonly causing bovine mastitis, an infection that is generally treated with penicillin G. No field case of true penicillin-resistant S. uberis (MIC > 16 mg/liter) has been described yet, but isolates presenting decreased susceptibility (MIC of 0.25 to 0.5 mg/liter) to this drug are regularly reported to our laboratory. In this study, we demonstrated that S. uberis can readily develop penicillin resistance in laboratory-evolved mutants. The molecular mechanism of resistance (acquisition of mutations in penicillin-binding protein 1A [PBP1A], PBP2B, and PBP2X) was generally similar to that of all other penicillin-resistant streptococci described so far. In addition, it was also specific to S. uberis in that independent resistant mutants carried a unique set of seven consensus mutations, of which only one (Q(554)E in PBP2X) was commonly found in other streptococci. In parallel, independent isolates from bovine mastitis with different geographical origins (France, Holland, and Switzerland) and presenting a decreased susceptibility to penicillin were characterized. No mosaic PBPs were detected, but they all presented mutations identical to the one found in the laboratory-evolved mutants. This indicates that penicillin resistance development in S. uberis might follow a stringent pathway that would explain, in addition to the ecological niche of this pathogen, why naturally occurring resistances are still rare. In addition, this study shows that there is a reservoir of mutated PBPs in animals, which might be exchanged with other streptococci, such as Streptococcus agalactiae, that could potentially be transmitted to humans.