Bacterial live vaccines with graded level of attenuation achieved by antibiotic resistance mutations: transduction experiments on the functional unit of resistance, attenuation and further accompanying markers
At least 10% of spontaneous chromosomal antibiotic resistant mutants of bacteria express a strain-dependent graded reduction of virulence; this correlates linearly with a prolonged generation time. Occasionally, these mutants are temperature sensitive or/and auxotrophe. The work described in this paper provides evidence that in such strains the resistance and the accompanying markers exist only as a functional genetic unit. In a series of transduction experiments with a pathogenic strain of Salmonella typhimurium, it was found that without exception, the resistance and the additional markers were 100% simultaneously transferred. Furthermore, antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli mutants with prolonged generation time, were isolated from faecal samples; it is thus indicated that, such innocuous mutants occur at any time in the intestine. It is concluded that concerns connecting such mutants to the possibility of resistance dissemination are unfounded; furthermore, even if transfer of resistance occurred, only attenuated strains would be disseminated. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.