Methicillin-sensitive and methicillin-resistant strains of from diverse geographic origins were analysed by polyacrylamide-agarose gel electrophoresis for esterase polymorphism. Three kinds of esterase bands, designated A, B and C, were defined by their ranges of activity toward five synthetic substrates and their resistance to di-isopropyl fluorophosphate. There were five allozymes of esterase A, four of esterase B and four of esterase C. Eighteen distinct combinations of allozymes (zymotypes) were distinguished amongst 105 strains analysed. Two major zymotypes were represented by 35 and 19 strains respectively, whereas other zymotypes were represented by one or, at most, seven strains. The coefficient of genetic diversity was lower for methicillin-resistant strains than for methicillin-sensitive strains. Most of the methicillin-resistant strains are represented by the two major zymotypes which differed from each other by the electrophoretic behaviour of the three esterases. These results indicate that, on the basis of esterase electrophoretic polymorphism, methicillin resistance is expressed in genetically different strains.


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