Nadine McCallum

University of Zurich, Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland

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Publications (27)90.19 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Faster growing and more virulent strains of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are increasingly displacing highly resistant MRSA. Elevated fitness in these MRSA is often accompanied by decreased and heterogeneous levels of methicillin resistance; however, the mechanisms for this phenomenon are not yet fully understood. Whole genome sequencing was used to investigate the genetic basis of this apparent correlation, in an isogenic MRSA strain pair that differed in methicillin resistance levels and fitness, with respect to growth rate. Sequencing revealed only one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the diadenylate cyclase gene dacA in the faster growing but less resistant strain. Diadenylate cyclases were recently discovered to synthesize the new second messenger cyclic diadenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP). Introduction of this mutation into the highly resistant but slower growing strain reduced resistance and increased its growth rate, suggesting a direct connection between the dacA mutation and the phenotypic differences of these strains. Quantification of cellular c-di-AMP revealed that the dacA mutation decreased c-di-AMP levels resulting in reduced autolysis, increased salt tolerance and a reduction in the basal expression of the cell wall stress stimulon. These results indicate that c-di-AMP affects cell envelope-related signalling in S. aureus. The influence of c-di-AMP on growth rate and methicillin resistance in MRSA indicate that altering c-di-AMP levels could be a mechanism by which MRSA strains can increase their fitness levels by reducing their methicillin resistance levels.
    PLoS ONE 08/2013; 8(8):e73512. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Staphylococcus aureus cell wall stress stimulon (CWSS) is activated by cell envelope-targeting antibiotics or depletion of essential cell wall biosynthesis enzymes. The functionally uncharacterized S. aureus LytR-CpsA-Psr (LCP) proteins, MsrR, SA0908 and SA2103, all belong to the CWSS. Although not essential, deletion of all three LCP proteins severely impairs cell division. We show here that VraSR-dependent CWSS expression was up to 250-fold higher in single, double and triple LCP mutants than in wild type S. aureus in the absence of external stress. The LCP triple mutant was virtually depleted of wall teichoic acids (WTA), which could be restored to different degrees by any of the single LCP proteins. Subinhibitory concentrations of tunicamycin, which inhibits the first WTA synthesis enzyme TarO (TagO), could partially complement the severe growth defect of the LCP triple mutant. Both of the latter findings support a role for S. aureus LCP proteins in late WTA synthesis, as in Bacillus subtilis where LCP proteins were recently proposed to transfer WTA from lipid carriers to the cell wall peptidoglycan. Intrinsic activation of the CWSS upon LCP deletion and the fact that LCP proteins were essential for WTA-loading of the cell wall, highlight their important role(s) in S. aureus cell envelope biogenesis.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 05/2012; 333(2):109-20. · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus contains three members of the LytR-CpsA-Psr (LCP) family of membrane proteins: MsrR, SA0908 and SA2103. The characterization of single-, double- and triple-deletion mutants revealed distinct phenotypes for each of the three proteins. MsrR was involved in cell separation and septum formation and influenced β-lactam resistance; SA0908 protected cells from autolysis; and SA2103, although displaying no apparent phenotype by itself, enhanced the properties of msrR and sa0908 mutants when deleted. The deletion of sa0908 and sa2103 also further attenuated the virulence of msrR mutants in a nematode-killing assay. The severely defective growth phenotype of the triple mutant revealed that LytR-CpsA-Psr proteins are essential for optimal cell division in S. aureus. Growth could be rescued to varying degrees by any one of the three proteins, indicating some functional redundancy within members of this protein family. However, differing phenotypic characteristics of all single and double mutants and complemented triple mutants indicated that each protein played a distinct role(s) and contributed differently to phenotypes influencing cell separation, autolysis, cell surface properties and virulence.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 07/2011; 320(2):142-51. · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus activates a protective cell wall stress stimulon (CWSS) in response to the inhibition of cell wall synthesis or cell envelope damage caused by several structurally and functionally different antibiotics. CWSS induction is coordinated by the VraSR two-component system, which senses an unknown signal triggered by diverse cell wall active agents. We have constructed a highly sensitive luciferase reporter gene system, using the promoter of sas016 (S. aureus N315), which detects very subtle differences in expression as well as measuring > 4 log-fold changes in CWSS activity, to compare the concentration dependence of CWSS induction kinetics of antibiotics with different cell envelope targets. We compared the effects of subinhibitory up to suprainhibitory concentrations of fosfomycin, D-cycloserine, tunicamycin, bacitracin, flavomycin, vancomycin, teicoplanin, oxacillin, lysostaphin and daptomycin. Induction kinetics were both strongly antibiotic- and concentration-dependent. Most antibiotics triggered an immediate response with induction beginning within 10 min, except for tunicamycin, D-cycloserine and fosfomycin which showed lags of up to one generation before induction commenced. Induction characteristics, such as the rate of CWSS induction once initiated and maximal induction reached, were strongly antibiotic dependent. We observed a clear correlation between the inhibitory effects of specific antibiotic concentrations on growth and corresponding increases in CWSS induction kinetics. Inactivation of VraR increased susceptibility to the antibiotics tested from 2- to 16-fold, with the exceptions of oxacillin and D-cycloserine, where no differences were detected in the methicillin susceptible S. aureus strain background analysed. There was no apparent correlation between the induction capacity of the various antibiotics and the relative importance of the CWSS for the corresponding resistance phenotypes. CWSS induction profiles were unique for each antibiotic. Differences observed in optimal induction conditions for specific antibiotics should be determined and taken into account when designing and interpreting CWSS induction studies.
    BMC Microbiology 01/2011; 11:16. · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The exposure of Staphylococcus aureus to a broad range of cell wall-damaging agents triggers the induction of a cell wall stress stimulon (CWSS) controlled by the VraSR two-component system. The vraSR genes form part of the four-cistron autoregulatory operon orf1-yvqF-vraS-vraR. The markerless inactivation of each of the genes within this operon revealed that orf1 played no observable role in CWSS induction and had no influence on resistance phenotypes for any of the cell envelope stress-inducing agents tested. The remaining three genes were all essential for the induction of the CWSS, and mutants showed various degrees of increased susceptibility to cell wall-active antibiotics. Therefore, the role of YvqF in S. aureus appears to be opposite that in other Gram-positive bacteria, where YvqF homologs have all been shown to inhibit signal transduction. This role, as an activator rather than repressor of signal transduction, corresponds well with resistance phenotypes of ΔYvqF mutants, which were similar to those of ΔVraR mutants in which CWSS induction also was completely abolished. Resistance profiles of ΔVraS mutants differed phenotypically from those of ΔYvqF and ΔVraR mutants on many non-ß-lactam antibiotics. ΔVraS mutants still became more susceptible than wild-type strains at low antibiotic concentrations, but they retained larger subpopulations that were able to grow on higher antibiotic concentrations than ΔYvqF and ΔVraR mutants. Subpopulations of ΔVraS mutants could grow on even higher glycopeptide concentrations than wild-type strains. The expression of a highly sensitive CWSS-luciferase reporter gene fusion was up to 2.6-fold higher in a ΔVraS than a ΔVraR mutant, which could be linked to differences in their respective antibiotic resistance phenotypes. Bacterial two-hybrid analysis indicated that the integral membrane protein YvqF interacted directly with VraS but not VraR, suggesting that it plays an essential role in sensing the as-yet unknown trigger of CWSS induction.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 01/2011; 55(4):1391-402. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transcription of spa, encoding the virulence factor protein A in Staphylococcus aureus, is tightly controlled by a complex regulatory network, ensuring its temporal expression over growth and at appropriate stages of the infection process. Transcriptomic profiling of XdrA, a DNA-binding protein that is conserved in all S. aureus genomes and shares similarity with the XRE family of helix-turn-helix, antitoxin-like proteins, revealed it to be a previously unidentified activator of spa transcription. To assess how XdrA fits into the complex web of spa regulation, a series of regulatory mutants were constructed; consisting of single, double, triple, and quadruple mutants lacking XdrA and/or the three key regulators previously shown to influence spa transcription directly (SarS, SarA, and RNAIII). A series of lacZ reporter gene fusions containing nested deletions of the spa promoter identified regions influenced by XdrA and the other three regulators. XdrA had almost as strong an activating effect on spa as SarS and acted on the same spa operator regions as SarS, or closely overlapping regions. All data from microarrays, Northern and Western blot analyses, and reporter gene fusion experiments indicated that XdrA is a major activator of spa expression that appears to act directly on the spa promoter and not through previously characterized regulators.
    Journal of bacteriology 10/2010; 192(19):5151-64. · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A cefoxitin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus strain was identified by the Cepheid GeneXpert as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). This strain was highly unstable and rapidly lost SCCmec upon subculturing in vitro, indicating that unstable MRSA is best detected by gene amplification-based methods.
    Journal of clinical microbiology 08/2010; 48(8):3030-2. · 4.16 Impact Factor
  • Staphylococci in Human Disease, Second Edition, 11/2009: pages 170 - 192; , ISBN: 9781444308464
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    ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus has a formidable ability to adapt to varying environmental conditions and an extraordinary capacity to rapidly become resistant to virtually all antibiotics. Resistance develops either through mutations and rearrangements within the staphylococcal genome, or by the acquisition of resistance determinants. Antibiotic resistances often impose a fitness burden on the host. Such biological costs can be reduced by tight regulation and antibiotic-inducible expression of resistance genes, or by compensatory mutations. Resistance induction by antibiotics can be mediated by dedicated, antibiotic-recognizing signal transducers or by mechanisms relieving translational attenuation. Antibiotic tolerance and the expression of resistance phenotypes can also be strongly influenced by the genetic backgrounds of strains and several other factors. Modification and indirect regulation of resistance levels can occur by mutations that alter gene expression or substrate specificity of genes contributing to resistance. Insertion elements can alter resistance profiles by turning relevant genes on or off. Environmental conditions and stress response mechanisms triggered by perturbation of the cell envelope, DNA damage, or faulty intermediary metabolism can also have an impact on resistance development and expression. Clinically relevant resistance is often built up through multiple steps, each of which contributes to an increase in resistance. The driving force behind resistance formation is antibiotic stress, and under clinical conditions selection for resistance is continuously competing with selection for bacterial fitness.
    International journal of medical microbiology: IJMM 10/2009; 300(2-3):118-29. · 4.54 Impact Factor
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    International Journal of Medical Microbiology. 08/2009; 299(6):465.
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    ABSTRACT: MsrR, a factor contributing to methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus, belongs to the LytR-CpsA-Psr family of cell envelope-associated proteins. Deletion of msrR increased cell size and aggregation, and altered envelope properties, leading to a temporary reduction in cell surface hydrophobicity, diminished colony-spreading ability, and an increased susceptibility to Congo red. The reduced phosphorus content of purified cell walls of the msrR mutant suggested a reduction in wall teichoic acids, which may explain some of the observed phenotypes. Microarray analysis of the msrR deletion mutant revealed only minor changes in the global transcriptome, suggesting that MsrR has structural rather than regulatory functions. Importantly, virulence of the msrR mutant was decreased in a nematode-killing assay as well as in rat experimental endocarditis. MsrR is therefore likely to play a role in cell envelope maintenance, cell separation, and pathogenicity of S. aureus.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 06/2009; 295(2):251-60. · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus is conferred by the mecA-encoded penicillin-binding protein PBP2a. Additional genomic factors are also known to influence resistance levels in strain specific ways, although little is known about their contribution to resistance phenotypes in clinical isolates. Here we searched for novel proteins binding to the mec operator, in an attempt to identify new factor(s) controlling methicillin resistance phenotypes. Analysis of proteins binding to a DNA fragment containing the mec operator region identified a novel, putative helix-turn-helix DNA-binding protein, SA1665. Nonpolar deletion of SA1665, in heterogeneously methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) of different genetic backgrounds, increased methicillin resistance levels in a strain dependent manner. This phenotype could be fully complemented by reintroducing SA1665 in trans. Northern and Western blot analyses, however, revealed that SA1665 had no visible influence on mecA transcription or amounts of PBP2a produced. SA1665 is a new chromosomal factor which influences methicillin resistance in MRSA. Although SA1665 bound to the mecA promoter region, it had no apparent influence on mecA transcription or translation, suggesting that this predicted DNA-binding protein modulates resistance indirectly, most likely through the control of other genomic factors which contribute to resistance.
    BMC Microbiology 02/2009; 9:15. · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A periodic survey of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Zurich in 2004 and 2006 revealed a consistently low prevalence of MRSA. SCCmec and ccr typing showed fluctuations in the proportions of SCCmec types and in the carriage of mobile virulence determinants. Together with the presence of variant SCCmecs these findings suggest a high clonal diversity and level of SCCmec recombination. The prevalence of a local "drug clone", associated with low-level methicillin resistance and rapid growth, significantly decreased. This clone had spread among intraveneous drug users, steadily increasing from 1994 to 2001 and was dominant in 2001. Apparently, changes in the management of the Zurich drug scene have restricted the spread of this clone.
    European Journal of Clinical Microbiology 12/2008; 28(6):647-53. · 3.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The reason for the extremely low-level oxacillin resistance in a so-called 'drug clone', a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus circulating among injection drug users in Zurich, Switzerland, could be traced back to the mecA promoter sequence and particularly to the strain's genetic background. Sequencing of its mec complex identified a point mutation (TATACT to TATATT), creating a perfect palindrome in the -10 region of the mecA promoter/operator region containing the binding sites for the mecA repressors MecI and BlaI. Two strains with vastly different beta-lactam resistance phenotypes, the low-level resistant drug clone type strain CHE482 and the highly homogeneously resistant strain COLn, were cured of their SCCmec elements and subsequently transformed with plasmids containing mecA under the control of either the wild-type or mutant promoter. Expression studies showed that this mutation had significant effects on both mecA transcription and corresponding PBP2a production, but only small effects on beta-lactam resistance levels within a given genetic background. A further mutation in the mecA ribosomal binding site (GGAGG to GGAGT), common to SCCmec type IV strains, was found to have no discernable effect on mecA transcription and PBP2a content, and only minimal effects on beta-lactam resistance. Factors associated with the genetic backgrounds into which these differently controlled mecA genes were introduced had a much higher impact on beta-lactam resistance levels than the rates of mecA transcription. The tight repression of mecA expression in this drug clone in the absence of beta-lactams could contribute to the apparent fitness of this fast growing strain.
    International journal of medical microbiology: IJMM 06/2008; 298(7-8):607-17. · 4.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The inactivation of TcaA contributes to intrinsic teicoplanin resistance in experimental and clinical isolates of glycopeptide-intermediate resistant Staphylococcus aureus. PhoA fusions confirmed that TcaA is a transmembrane protein with a short intracellular N-terminal domain containing a C-4 zinc finger binding motif, a single membrane-spanning domain, and a large extracellular C-terminal domain. The region conferring teicoplanin susceptibility was narrowed down to the transmembrane part and the first third of the extracellular domain of TcaA, suggesting that neither the C-4 zinc finger binding motif nor the C terminus contributed to teicoplanin susceptibility. TcaA belongs to the cell wall stress stimulon, which comprises a set of genes universally upregulated by cell wall damage. Induction of tcaA was shown to be fully dependent on the two-component regulatory system VraSR. A 66-bp region upstream of the transcriptional start site, which contained an inverted repeat partially covering the promoter box, was shown to be essential for VraSR-mediated induction by cell wall stress. Interestingly, the induction or overexpression of tcaA did not contribute further to teicoplanin susceptibility, suggesting that small amounts of TcaA, such as those present under normal uninduced conditions, were sufficient for TcaA-mediated teicoplanin susceptibility. The strong attenuation of tcaA deletion mutants in a Caenorhabditis elegans survival assay suggested that TcaA may, in addition to affecting glycopeptide susceptibility, also play a role in virulence.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 12/2007; 51(11):3836-43. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An extremely low level methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) belonging to ST45, circulates among intravenous drug users in the Zurich area. This clone can be misinterpreted as an MSSA by phenotypic oxacillin resistance tests, although it carries a staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) element encoding a functional mecA gene and it produces PBP2a. This clone carried a new 45.7-kb element, termed SCCmecN1, containing a class B mec complex (mecA-DeltamecR1::IS1272), a truncated Tn4003 harbouring the dfrA gene, and a fusB1 gene, conferring methicillin, trimethoprim and low level fusidic acid resistance, respectively. In addition to the two insertion site sequences (ISS) framing the SCCmec, a third ISS (ISS*) was identified within the element. SCCmecN1 also harboured two distinct ccrAB complexes belonging to the class 4 subtype, both of which were shown to be active and to be able to excise the SCCmecN1 or parts thereof. Slight variations in the SmaI-PFGE pattern of the clinical MRSA isolates belonging to this clone were traced back to differences in the sizes of the SCCmec J2 regions and/or to a 6.4-kb deletion extending from ISS* to the right end ISS. This latter deletion led to a variant right SCCmec-chromosomal junction site. MRSA clones carrying the shorter SCCmec with the 6.4-kb deletion were usually ciprofloxacin resistant, while strains with the complete SCCmecN1 were co-trimoxazole resistant or had no additional resistances. This suggested that the genetic backbone of the host S. aureus, although identical by PFGE pattern, had at some stage diverged with one branch acquiring a sulfonomide resistance mutation and the other ciprofloxacin resistance. This description of the structure and variations of SCCmecN1 will allow for quicker and easier molecular detection of this clone and monitoring of its spread.
    BMC Microbiology 02/2007; 7:62. · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A novel staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC) mec from a clinical methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolate (ST100/CC5) had a mosaic structure, composed of SCC DNA from several different backgrounds. It harbored two complete ccr loci and a new variant of mec complex B, with DeltamecR1 interrupted by the aminoglycoside resistance transposon Tn4001.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 02/2007; 51(1):390-3. · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Background An extremely low level methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) belonging to ST45, circulates among intravenous drug users in the Zurich area. This clone can be misinterpreted as an MSSA by phenotypic oxacillin resistance tests, although it carries a staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCC mec ) element encoding a functional mecA gene and it produces PBP2a. Results This clone carried a new 45.7-kb element, termed SCC mec <sub>N1</sub>, containing a class B mec complex ( mecA- Δ mecR1::IS1272 ), a truncated Tn 4003 harbouring the dfrA gene, and a fusB1 gene, conferring methicillin, trimethoprim and low level fusidic acid resistance, respectively. In addition to the two insertion site sequences (ISS) framing the SCC mec , a third ISS (ISS*) was identified within the element. SCC mec <sub>N1 </sub>also harboured two distinct ccrAB complexes belonging to the class 4 subtype, both of which were shown to be active and to be able to excise the SCC mec <sub>N1 </sub>or parts thereof. Slight variations in the SmaI-PFGE pattern of the clinical MRSA isolates belonging to this clone were traced back to differences in the sizes of the SCC mec J2 regions and/or to a 6.4-kb deletion extending from ISS* to the right end ISS. This latter deletion led to a variant right SCC mec -chromosomal junction site. MRSA clones carrying the shorter SCC mec with the 6.4-kb deletion were usually ciprofloxacin resistant, while strains with the complete SCC mec <sub>N1 </sub>were co-trimoxazole resistant or had no additional resistances. This suggested that the genetic backbone of the host S. aureus , although identical by PFGE pattern, had at some stage diverged with one branch acquiring a sulfonomide resistance mutation and the other ciprofloxacin resistance. Conclusion This description of the structure and variations of SCC mec <sub>N1 </sub>will allow for quicker and easier molecular detection of this clone and monitoring of its spread.
    BMC Microbiology. 01/2007;
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    ABSTRACT: The vancomycin stress induced transcriptome of the methicillin susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) strain Newman was determined by microarray analysis. Subsets of the induced ORFs corresponded to those previously reported to be induced by vancomycin in the methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains N315 and JH1, and/or by other cell wall active antibiotics in RN450; while other ORFs appeared to be induced strain specifically in Newman. Northern analyses showed that the induction pathway for several of the ORFs appeared to be altered in a number of clinical NARSA isolates. Induction was found to be dependent on inhibitory concentrations of antibiotics.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 11/2006; 1760(10):1475-81. · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Glycopeptide resistance, in a set of in vitro step-selected teicoplanin-resistant mutants derived from susceptible Staphylococcus aureus SA113, was associated with slower growth, thickening of the bacterial cell wall, increased N-acetylglucosamine incorporation, and decreased hemolysis. Differential transcriptome analysis showed that as resistance increased, some virulence-associated genes became downregulated. In a mouse tissue cage infection model, an inoculum of 10(4) CFU of strain SA113 rapidly produced a high-bacterial-load infection, which triggered MIP-2 release, leukocyte infiltration, and reduced leukocyte viability. In contrast, with the same inoculum of the isogenic glycopeptide-resistant derivative NM67, CFU initially decreased, resulting in the elimination of the mutant in three out of seven cages. In the four cages in which NM67 survived, it partially regained wild-type characteristics, including thinning of the cell wall, reduced N-acetylglucosamine uptake, and increased hemolysis; however, the survivors also became teicoplanin hypersusceptible. The elimination of the teicoplanin-resistant mutants and selection of teicoplanin-hypersusceptible survivors in the tissue cages indicated that glycopeptide resistance imposes a fitness burden on S. aureus and is selected against in vivo, with restoration of fitness incurring the price of resistance loss.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 08/2006; 50(7):2352-60. · 4.57 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

593 Citations
90.19 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2004–2012
    • University of Zurich
      Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
    • National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan
  • 2010
    • St George's, University of London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2006
    • Universitätsspital Basel
      Bâle, Basel-City, Switzerland
  • 2005
    • Curtin University Australia
      • School of Biomedical Sciences
      Bentley, Western Australia, Australia