A genetic analysis of resistance to antibiotics in methicillin-resistant was performed. Demonstration of plasmid-specific DNA either in transductants that had received antibiotic-resistance markers from multiply-resistant strains, or in segregants of methicillin-resistant strains that had lost unstable determinants except the one under study, indicated that markers of resistance to penicillin, chloramphenicol and neomycin are present on separate, mutually compatible plasmids. Absence of covalently closed circular DNA was demonstrated in transductants that were resistant to methicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin and streptomycin, as well as in segregants that had lost the penicillinase, chloramphenicol and neomycin plasmid, but were still resistant to methicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, streptomycin and the sulphonamides. Analysis of plasmid DNA either in a 5-20% neutral sucrose gradient or by electron microscopy revealed the presence of three readily distinguishable plasmids. The molecular weights of these plasmids were estimated by comparing the sedimentation rate constants with those of known reference plasmids and by contour-length measurements. The molecular weight of the penicillinase plasmid was estimated to be 20 × 10 daltons, that of the chloramphenicol plasmid 3 × 10 daltons and that of the plasmid carrying the neomycin resistance marker 37 × 10 daltons.


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