Aminoglycoside N-Acetyltransferases
Aminoglycoside O-Nucleotidyltransferases
Aminoglycoside O-Phosphotransferases


The aminoglycoside modifying enzymes are the most prevalent and clinically relevant mechanism of aminoglycoside antibiotic resistance. They are classified into three major families: the aminoglycoside N-acetyltransferases (AACs), the aminoglycoside O-nucleotidylyltransferases (ANTs), and the aminoglycoside O-phosphotransferases (APHs). These enzymes act by acetylating, adenylylating, or phosphorylating their target aminoglycosides on selected amino or hydroxyl groups using either acetylCoA or ATP as co-substrates.

The chemical groups that are affected by enzymatic modification are often directly involved in binding to the ribosome. For example, the 6 -amino group of the 2-deoxystreptamine aminoglycosides contacts A1408, and modification by acetylation alters the charge distribution and introduce a steric hindrance for productive complex formation.


The large number of these enzymes and associated genes discovered over the past 40 years has necessitated the establishment of a standardized nomenclature [1], which has been widely adopted. For example, the aminoglycoside resistance enzyme APH(3 )-IIIa is deciphered as “APH,” which refers to the enzyme family (aminoglycoside kinase), “(3 )” is the regiospecific site of modification on the antibiotic, “III” refers to the resistance phenotype (i.e., the individual aminoglycosides modified), and “a” is the specific gene. A partial list of known enzymes with their aminoglycoside resistance profiles is provided in Table 1.

Enzyme Aminoglycosidesa Donor
AAC(6')- I(a-d,e, f-z) T, A, N, D, S, K, I AcCoA
  II T, G, N, D, S, K AcCoA
AAC(3)- I(a-b) G, S, F AcCoA
  II(a-c) T, G, N, D, S AcCoA
  III(a-c) T, G, D, S, K, N, P, L AcCoA
  IV T, S, N, D, A AcCoA
AAC(1)-   P, L, R, AP AcCoA
AAC(2)- Ia T, S, N, D, Ne AcCoA
ANT(2")- I T, G, D, S, K ATP
ANT(3') I St, Sp ATP
ANT(4') Ia T, A, D, K, I ATP
  IIa T, A, K, I ATP
ANT(6')- I St ATP
ANT(9')- I Sp ATP
APH(3')- I K, Ne, L, P, R ATP
  II K, Ne, B, P, R ATP
  III K, Ne, L, P, R, B, A, I ATP
  IV K, Ne, B, P, R ATP
  V Ne, P, R ATP
  VI K, Ne, P, R, B, A, I ATP
APH(2") Iab K, G, T, S, D ATP
  I(b,d) K, G, T, N, D ATP
  Ic K, G, T ATP
APH(3")- I(a-b) St ATP
APH(7")- Ia H ATP
APH(4)- I(a-b) H ATP
APH(6)- I(a-d) St ATP
APH(9)- I(a-b) Sp ATP

TABLE 1. Aminoglycoside-Modifying Enzymes and Their Resistance Profiles

aA, amikacin; Ap, apramycin; B, butirosin; D, dibekacin; G, gentamicin; H, hygromycin; I, isepamicin; K, kanamycin; L, lividomycin; N, netilmicin; Ne, neomycin; P, paromomycin; R, ribostamycin; S, sisomicin; Sp, spectinomycin; St, streptomycin; T, tobramycin.
bFrom the bifunctional enzyme AAC(6 )–APH(2 ).

Aminoglycoside-modifying enzymes have become widespread throughout bacterial communities because many of the encoding genes are found on mobile genetic elements such as integrons, transposons, and plasmids, which facilitate gene transfer among different species. Many organisms harbor chromosomally encoded aminoglycoside resistance genes such as Enterococcus faecium, which encodes an ubiquitous gene encoding the aminoglycoside acetyltransferase AAC(6 )-Ii [2]. The result of the widespread gene dissemination is that almost every clinically important bacterial species is associated with aminoglycoside resistance.

The widespread dissemination of aminoglycoside-inactivating enzymes has contributed to the reduction in use of several aminoglycoside antibiotics. For example, the wide distribution of APH(3 ) enzymes have effectively made kanamycin clinically ineffective. The emergence of genes encoding ANT(2 ), AAC(3), and APH(2 ), is affacting gentamicin, one the few remaining aminoglycosides still in clinical use [3]. These resistance genes are frequently clustered with other aminoglycoside resistance genes in Gram-negatives, conferring pan-aminoglycoside resistance in a single species [4]. In gram-positive bacteria, the emergence of AAC(6 )-APH(2 ), a bifunctional enzyme that is able to modify almost every 2-deoxystreptamine aminoglycoside known, is also a significant concern.


1. Shaw, K. J.; Rather, P. N.; Hare, R. S.; Miller, G. H. Microbiol. Rev. 1993, 57, 138.

2, Costa, Y.; Galimand, M.; Leclercq, R.; Duval, J.; Courvalin, P. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 1993, 37, 1896.

3. Miller, G. H.; Sabatelli, F. J.; Hare, R. S.; Glupczynski, Y.; Mackey, P.; Shlaes, D.; Shimizu, K.; Shaw, K. J.; Groups, a. A. R. S. Clin. Infect. Dis. 1997, 24, S46.

4. Over, U.; Gur, D.; Unal, S.; Miller, G. H. Clin. Microbiol. Infect. 2001, 7, 470.


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