Sphingobacterium sp. strain PM2-P1-29 harbours a functional tet(X) gene encoding for the degradation of tetracycline

S. Ghosh, M. J. Sadowsky, M. C. Roberts, J. A. Gralnick, T. M. LaPara

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Aims: The tet(X) gene has previously been found in obligate anaerobic Bacteroides spp., which is curious because tet(X) encodes for a NADP-dependent monooxygenase that requires oxygen to degrade tetracycline. In this study, we characterized a tetracycline resistant, aerobic, Gram-negative Sphingobacterium sp. strain PM2-P1-29 that harbours a tet(X) gene. Methods and Results: Sphingobacterium sp. PM2-P1-29 demonstrated the ability to transform tetracycline compared with killed controls. The presence of the tet(X) gene was verified by PCR and nucleotide sequence analysis. Additional nucleotide sequence analysis of regions flanking the tet(X) gene revealed a mobilizable transposon-like element (Tn6031) that shared organizational features and genes with the previously described Bacteroides conjugative transposon CTnDOT. A circular transposition intermediate of the tet(X) region, characteristic of mobilizable transposons, was detected. However, we could not demonstrate the conjugal transfer of the tet(X) gene using three different recipient strains and numerous experimental conditions. Conclusions: This study suggests that Sphingobacterium sp. PM2-P1-29 or a related bacterium may be an ancestral source of the tet(X) gene. Significance and Impact of the Study: This study demonstrates the importance of environmental bacteria and lateral gene transfer in the dissemination and proliferation of antibiotic resistance among bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1336-1342
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Sphingobacterium
  • Tet(X)
  • Tetracycline


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