Polyphasic characterization of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae clinical isolates suggests vertical transmission of the blaKPC-3 gene

Catarina Ferreira, Santosh Kumar Bikkarolla, Karolin Frykholm, Saga Pohjanen, Margarida Brit, Catarina Lameiras, Olga C. Nunes, Fredrik Westerlund, Célia M. Manaia

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Abstract

Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae are a major global threat in healthcare facilities. The propagation of carbapenem resistance determinants can occur through vertical transmission, with genetic elements being transmitted by the host bacterium, or by horizontal transmission, with the same genetic elements being transferred among distinct bacterial hosts. This work aimed to track carbapenem resistance transmission by K. pneumoniae in a healthcare facility. The study involved a polyphasic approach based on conjugation assays, resistance phenotype and genotype analyses, whole genome sequencing, and plasmid characterization by pulsed field gel electrophoresis and optical DNA mapping. Out of 40 K. pneumoniae clinical isolates recovered over two years, five were carbapenem- and multidrug-resistant and belonged to multilocus sequence type ST147. These isolates harboured the carbapenemase encoding blaKPC-3 gene, integrated in conjugative plasmids of 140 kbp or 55 kbp, belonging to replicon types incFIA/incFIIK or incN/incFIIK, respectively. The two distinct plasmids encoding the blaKPC-3 gene were associated with distinct genetic lineages, as confirmed by optical DNA mapping and whole genome sequence analyses. These results suggested vertical (bacterial strain-based) transmission of the carbapenem-resistance genetic elements. Determination of the mode of transmission of antibiotic resistance in healthcare facilities, only possible based on polyphasic approaches as described here, is essential to control resistance propagation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0247058
Pages (from-to)1 to 18
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2021

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