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Enzymes act like a switch, turning antibiotic resistance on and off in enterococci

Enterococcus faecalis isn’t always a deadly pathogen. Normally a friendly resident of the gastrointestinal tract, in individuals who are immune compromised E. faecalis can turn ugly and infect the bloodstream, urinary tract, and surgical sites. Patients who are given cephalosporin antibiotics for other problems are also prone to opportunistic E. faecalis infection, since the bacterium is naturally resistant to these antibiotics and flourishes when sensitive bacteria are killed off. Cephalosporins are like a last resort for treating infections that are resistant to other, less powerful drugs, so a patient treated with cephalosporins who acquires an E. faecalis infection essentially goes from the frying pan (their original infection) and into the fire (E. faecalis infection).

But how do enterococci overcome cephalosporin antibiotics? Little is known about how they remain immune to the effects of cephalosporins, but in mBio this week, Kristich et al. lay out some new discoveries about the ways in which enterococci turn their resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics on and off. The new details could lead to new therapies for preventing and treating enterococcal infections.

Click on the source link to read more on mBio’s blog.

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