Colistin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii is driven by multiple genomic traits: Evaluating the role of ISAba1-driven eptA overexpression among Indian isolates

Colistin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii is mediated by multiple mechanisms. Recently, mutations within pmrAB two component system and overexpression of eptA due to upstream insertion of ISAba1 play a major role.To characterize colistin resistance mechanisms among the clinical isolates of A. baumannii in India.

A total of 224 clinical isolates of A. baumannii collected from 2016 to 2019 were included in this study. Mutations within lipid A biosynthesis and pmrAB genes were characterized by Whole Genome Shotgun sequencing. Twenty eight complete genomes were further characterized for insertional inactivation of lpx genes and the association of ISAba1-eptA using hybrid assembly approach. Non-sysnonymous mutations like M12I in pmrA, A138T and A444V in pmrB and E117K in lpxD were identified. Four of the five colistin resistant A.baumannii isolates had insertion of ISAba1 upstream eptA. No mcr genes were identified.

Overall, the present study highlights the diversity of colistin resistance mechanisms in A. baumannii. ISAba1-driven eptA overexpression could be responsible for colistin resistance among Indian isolates of colistin resistant A. baumannii.

Authors: Saranya Vijayakumar, Jobin John Jacob, Karthick Vasudevan, Baby Abirami Shankar, Maria Lincy Francis, Agilandeeswari Kirubananthan, Shalini Anandan, Karthik Gunasekaran, Kamini Walia, Indranil Biswas, Keith S Kaye, Balaji Veeraraghavan