ABSTRACT: Fluoroquinolone susceptibility heterogeneity between various Ehrlichia species has been previously demonstrated. In gram-negative bacteria, resistance to fluoroquinolones most often corresponds to specific amino acid variations in a portion of the protein sequence of the A subunit of DNA gyrase (GyrA), referred to as the quinolone resistance-determining region (QRDR). We suspected a similar mechanism to be responsible for natural resistance in some Ehrlichia species. To verify this hypothesis, we sequenced the entire gyrA gene of the quinolone-susceptible species Ehrlichia sennetsu and designed specific primers to amplify and sequence the QRDR of four other Ehrlichia species as well as the closely related species Cowdria ruminantium. We identified in the fluoroquinolone-resistant species Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia canis a specific GyrA QRDR amino acid sequence, also present in C. ruminantium (whose susceptibility to fluoroquinolones remains unknown). These three species belong to a single phylogenetic cluster referred to as the E. canis genogroup. A different GyrA QRDR pattern, shared by the Ehrlichia species representatives of the E. sennetsu and Ehrlichia phagocytophila genogroups, was identified. Three of the four species tested are known to be susceptible to fluoroquinolones. A serine residue in position 83 (Escherichia coli numbering) in the susceptible species is replaced by an alanine residue in fluoroquinolone-resistant species. These results are consistent with the current knowledge on fluoroquinolone resistance in other gram-negative bacteria. They are indicative of a natural gyrase-mediated resistance to fluoroquinolones in the E. canis genogroup.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 08/2001; 45(7):2098-105. · 4.84 Impact Factor