Proteus mirabilis and cat
Proteus mirabilis PM13 is a well characterized chloramphenicol-sensitive isolate which spontaneously gives rise to resistant colonies on solid media containing chloramphenicol (50ug/ml) at a plating efficiency of between 10-4 and 10-5 per cell per generation. When a chloramphenicol resistant colony is grown in liquid medium in the absence of the antibiotic for I50 generations a population of predominantly sensitive cells arises. The cat gene responsible for the phenomenon is chromosomal, and has been cloned from P.mirabilis PMI3 with DNA prepared from cells grown in the absence or the presence of chloramphenicol. Recombinant plasmids which confer resistance to chloramphenicol carry an 8.5-kb PstI fragment irrespective of the source of host DNA. The location of The cat gene within the PstI fragment was determined by Southern blotting with a cat consensus 'active - site' oligonucleotide (5'-CCATCACAGACGGCATGATG-3') corresponding to the expected amino acid sequence of the active site region of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase. DNA sequence analysis has revealed a high degree of homology between the P. mirabllls cat -gene and the type I ca-t variant (Tn9), 76% at the amino acid level and 73% when nucleotides in the coding sequence are compared. The mechanism for the appearance and disappearance of chloramphenicol resistance in P. mirabilis appears to be associated with a host-specific trans-acting element which controls cat gene expression. A precedent for such a control network is given by phase variation in Salmonella typhimurium, where an invertible DNA segment controls the transcription of a trans-acting regulatory element. A comparison of the 5' regions of the S.typhimurium flagellin genes in and H2, which are alternately expressed by a flip-flop control mechanism with the 5' region of P.mirabilis cat show blocks of homology. Whether or not this homology is significant in the regulation of cat gene expression has not been determined.