The acquisition of resistance to carbapenem and macrolide-mediated quorum sensing inhibition by Pseudomonas aeruginosa via a novel integrative and conjugative element ICETn43716385
Reference: bioRxiv (2017) doi:

Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause persistant and life-threatening infections in immunocompromised patients. Carbapenems are the first-line agents to treat P. aeruginosa infections; therefore, the emergence of carbapenem-resistant P. aeruginosa strains has greatly challenged effective antibiotic therapy. In this study, we characterised the full-length genomes of two carbapenem resistant P. aeruginosa clinical isolates that produce the carbapebemase New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1 (NDM-1). We found that the blaNDM-1 gene is encoded by a novel intergrative and conjugative element (ICE) ICETn43716385, which also carries the macrolide resistance gene msr(E) and the florfenicol resistance gene floR. The msr(E) gene has rarely been described in P. aeruginosa genomes. To investigate the functional roles of msr(E) in P. aeruginosa, we exogeneously expressed this gene in P. aeruginosa laboratory strains and found that the acquisition of msr(E) could abolish the azithromycin-mediated quorum sensing inhibition in vitro and the anti-Pseudomonas effect of azithromycin in vivo. In addition, the expression of msr(E) almost completely restored the azithromycin-affected P. aeruginosa transcriptome, as shown by our RNA sequencing analysis. We present the first evidence of blaNDM-1 to be carried by intergrative and conjugative elements, and the first evidence of co-transfer of carbapenem resistance and the resistance to macrolide-mediated quorum sensing inhibition into P. aeruginosa genomes.


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