The Journal of communicable diseases

The paradox of pyrazinamide: an update on the molecular mechanisms of pyrazinamide resistance in Mycobacteria.

PMID 17373362


Pyrazinamide (PZA) is an important front line anti-tuberculosis drug because of its sterilizing activity against semi-dormant tubercle bacilli. In spite of its remarkable role in shortening the treatment duration from 9 months to 6 months when used in combination with Rifampicin and Isoniazid, PZA remains a difficult paradox because of its incompletely understood mode of action and mechanism of resistance. PZA is a nicotinamide analog prodrug which is converted into the active bactericidal form pyrazinoic acid by the bacterial enzyme pyrazinamidase (PZase). PZA does not appear to have a specific cellular target and instead, exerts its bactericidal effect by disrupting the membrane energetics and acidification of cytoplasm. Majority (72-97%) of PZA-resistant isolates of M. tuberculosis exhibit mutations in their pncA gene or upstream area leading to loss of PZase activity. A wide diversity of pncA mutations scattered along the entire length of pncA gene is unique to PZA resistance. However, PZA resistant isolates with normal PZase activity and wild type pncA sequences have also been reported in several studies which indicate that alternate mechanisms of PZA resistance exist. Investigations into these mechanisms would be useful in developing alternative diagnostic/therapeutic measures. This review presents the update of various mechanisms of PZA resistance in different mycobacteria with special emphasis on mode of action of PZA and mechanisms of resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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