Molecular studies on the mechanism of tetracycline resistance mediated by Tet(O)

E. K. Manavathu, C. L. Fernandez, B. S. Cooperman, D. E. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The mechanism of resistance to tetracycline in Escherichia coli mediated by the Campylobacter jejuni-derived resistance determinant Tet(O) was investigated. The cloned Tet(O) protein had no detectable effect on the intracellular accumulation of tetracycline. The presence of Tet(O) markedly diminished the inhibitory effect of tetracycline on protein synthesis both in vivo and in vitro. Ribosomes prepared from tetracycline-resistant and susceptible E. coli cells bound almost identical amounts of radiolabeled tetracycline. Thus, a reduction in the binding of the antibiotic to its target site on the ribosome is not the primary mechanism of resistance. Poly(U)-directed polyphenylalanine synthesis revealed that an S-100 fraction prepared from tetracycline-resistant cells made the ribosomes prepared from susceptible cells considerably more resistant to the inhibitory action of tetracycline. The N-terminal portion (1 to 150 residues) of Tet(O) is highly homologous to the GTP-binding domain of elongation factor Tu and to elongation factor G, indicating that the Tet(O) protein has the potential to bind GTP. These data suggests that the Tet(O) protein could function either as a tetracycline-resistant analog of this elongation factor(s) or by modifying the target sites on the ribosomes in a catalytic fashion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-77
Number of pages7
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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