The ermC gene of plasmid pE194 specifies resistance to the macrolidelincosamide-streptogramin B antibiotics. This resistance, as well as synthesis of the 29,000 dalton protein product of ermC, has been shown to be induced by erythromycin. Weisblum and his colleagues have established that macrolide resistance is associated with a specific dimethylation of adeninein 23 S rRNA. We show that pE194 specifies an RNA methylase that can utilize either 50 S ribosomes or 23 S rRNA as substrates. Synthesis of this methylaseis induced by low concentrations of erythromycin, and the enzyme is produced in elevated amounts by strains carrying a high copy number mutant of pE194. The methylase comigrates with the 29K ermC product on polyacrylamide gels. The purification and some properties of this methylase are described.
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