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Emergence of multidrug resistant hypervirulent ST23 Klebsiella pneumoniae: multidrug resistant plasmid acquisition drives evolution


Date: 20th November 2020 | Source: Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology

Authors: Chaitra Shankar, Jobin John Jacob, Karthick Vasudevan, Rohit Biswas, Abi Manesh, Dhiviya Prabaa Muthuirulandi Sethuvel, Santosh Varughese, Indranil Biswas,Balaji Veeraraghavan.

Background: In recent years, the emergence of multidrug resistant hypervirulent K. pneumoniae (MDR hvKp) isolates poses severe therapeutic challenge to global public health. The present study used the complete genome sequence of two MDR hvKp isolates belonging to ST23 to characterize the phylogenetic background and plasmid diversity.

Methods: Two hvKp isolates from patients with bacteremia were sequenced using Ion Torrent PGM and Oxford Nanopore MinION platforms and assembled by hybrid genome assembly approach. Comparative genomics approaches were used to investigate the population structure, evolution, virulence, and antimicrobial resistance of MDR hvKp strains.

Results: The study isolates exhibited typical features of hvKp phenotypes associated with ST23. The convergence of multidrug resistance and hypervirulence were attributed by the presence of multiple plasmids including a 216 kb virulence plasmid and MDR plasmids belonging to IncA/C2, IncFIB, IncX3, and ColKP3 groups.

The insertion of catA1 gene into virulence plasmid was observed along with genetic factors such as aerobactin, salmochelin, and rmpA2 that confer hvKp’s hypervirulent phenotype. The core genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) phylogenetic analyses of the isolates showed the evolution of ST23 hvKp was predominantly driven by ICEKp acquisitions.

Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of MDR hvKp isolates of ST23 with insertion of catA1 gene into the virulence plasmid which presents the possibility of hotspot integration sites on the plasmids to aid acquisition of AMR genes. ST23 is no longer confined to susceptible strains of hvKp. Our findings emphasize the need for more studies on recombinant events, plasmid transmission dynamics and evolutionary process involving hvKp.

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