Methylation of 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) has recently emerged as a new mechanism of resistance against aminoglycosides among gram-negative pathogens belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae and glucose-nonfermentative microbes, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter species. This event is mediated by a newly recognized group of 16S rRNA methylases, which share modest similarity to those produced by aminoglycoside-producing actinomycetes. Their presence confers a high level of resistance to all parenterally administered aminoglycosides that are currently in clinical use. The responsible genes are mostly located on transposons within transferable plasmids, which provides them with the potential to spread horizontally and may in part explain the already worldwide distribution of this novel resistance mechanism. Some of these organisms have been found to coproduce extended-spectrum β-lactamases or metallo-β-lactamases, contributing to their multidrug-resistant phenotypes. A 2-tiered approach, consisting of disk diffusion tests followed by confirmation with polymerase chain reaction, is recommended for detection of 16S rRNA methylase-mediated resistance.
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