Appl Environ Microbiol 2008 Oct 8;74(19):6032-40. Epub 2008 Aug 8.
Department of Microbiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 7025, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.
The spread of antibiotic resistance in pathogens is primarily a consequence of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, but there is concern that food-borne lactic acid bacteria may act as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes when distributed in large doses to the gastrointestinal tract. Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 is a commercially available probiotic strain which has been found to harbor potentially transferable resistance genes. The aims of this study were to define the location and nature of beta-lactam, tetracycline, and lincosamide resistance determinants and, if they were found to be acquired, attempt to remove them from the strain by methods that do not genetically modify the organism before subsequently testing whether the probiotic characteristics were retained. No known beta-lactam resistance genes was found, but penicillin-binding proteins from ATCC 55730, two additional resistant strains, and three sensitive strains of L. reuteri were sequenced and comparatively analyzed. The beta-lactam resistance in ATCC 55730 is probably caused by a number of alterations in the corresponding genes and can be regarded as not transferable. The strain was found to harbor two plasmids carrying tet(W) tetracycline and lnu(A) lincosamide resistance genes, respectively. A new daughter strain, L. reuteri DSM 17938, was derived from ATCC 55730 by removal of the two plasmids, and it was shown to have lost the resistances associated with them. Direct comparison of the parent and daughter strains for a series of in vitro properties and in a human clinical trial confirmed the retained probiotic properties of the daughter strain.