Origin, maintenance and spread of antibiotic resistant genes within plasmids and chromosomes of bloodstream isolates of Escherichia coli

Goswami, C. , Fox, S., Holden, M. T.G., Connor, M., Leanord, A. and Evans, T. J. (2020) Origin, maintenance and spread of antibiotic resistant genes within plasmids and chromosomes of bloodstream isolates of Escherichia coli. Microbial Genomics, 6(4), e000353. (doi: 10.1099/mgen.0.000353) (PMID:32160146) (PMCID:PMC7276700)

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Blood stream invasion by Escherichia coli is the commonest cause of bacteremia in the UK and elsewhere with an attributable mortality of about 15–20 %; antibiotic resistance to multiple agents is common in this microbe and is associated with worse outcomes. Genes conferring antimicrobial resistance, and their frequent location on horizontally transferred genetic elements is well-recognised, but the origin of these determinants, and their ability to be maintained and spread within clinically-relevant bacterial populations is unclear. Here, we set out to examine the distribution of antimicrobial resistance genes in chromosomes and plasmids of 16 bloodstream isolates of E. coli from patients within Scotland, and how these genes are maintained and spread. Using a combination of short and long-read whole genome sequencing methods, we were able to assemble complete sequences of 44 plasmids, with 16 Inc group F and 20 col plasmids; antibiotic resistance genes located almost exclusively within the F group. blaCTX-M15 genes had re-arranged in some strains into the chromosome alone (five strains), while others contained plasmid copies alone (two strains). Integrons containing multiple antibiotic genes were widespread in plasmids, notably many with a dfrA7 gene encoding resistance to trimethoprim, thus linking trimethoprim resistance to the other antibiotic resistance genes within the plasmids. This will allow even narrow spectrum antibiotics such as trimethoprim to act as a selective agent for plasmids containing antibiotic resistance genes mediating much broader resistance, including blaCTX-M15. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis to provide complete sequence data of chromosomes and plasmids in a collection of pathogenic human bloodstream isolates of E. coli. Our findings reveal the interplay between plasmids and integrative and conjugative elements in the maintenance and spread of antibiotic resistance genes within pathogenic E. coli.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The work was funded by the Scottish Executive via the Chief Scientists Office through the provision of a grant to establish the Scottish Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Institute (SHAIPI).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Evans, Professor Tom and Connor, Dr Martin and Goswami, Dr Cosmika and Fox, Dr Stephen and Leanord, Professor Alistair
Authors: Goswami, C., Fox, S., Holden, M. T.G., Connor, M., Leanord, A., and Evans, T. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Microbial Genomics
Publisher:Microbiology Society
ISSN (Online):2057-5858
Published Online:11 March 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Microbial Genomics 6(4): e000353
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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