Genetic structures at the origin of acquisition of the beta-lactamase bla KPC gene

Thierry Naas, Gaelle Cuzon, Maria-Virginia Villegas, Marie-Frédérique Lartigue, John P Quinn, Patrice Nordmann
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 2008, 52 (4): 1257-63
Genetic structures surrounding the carbapenem-hydrolyzing Ambler class A bla KPC gene were characterized in several KPC-positive Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains isolated from the United States, Colombia, and Greece. The bla KPC genes were associated in all cases with transposon-related structures. In the K. pneumoniae YC isolate from the United States, the beta-lactamase bla KPC-2 gene was located on a novel Tn3-based transposon, Tn4401. Tn4401 was 10 kb in size, was delimited by two 39-bp imperfect inverted repeat sequences, and harbored, in addition to the beta-lactamase bla KPC-2 gene, a transposase gene, a resolvase gene, and two novel insertion sequences, ISKpn6 and ISKpn7. Tn4401 has been identified in all isolates. However, two isoforms of this transposon were found: Tn4401a was found in K. pneumoniae YC and K. pneumoniae GR from the United States and Greece, respectively, and differed by a 100-bp deletion, located just upstream of the bla KPC-2 gene, compared to the sequence of Tn4401b, which was found in the Colombian isolates. In all isolates tested, Tn4401 was flanked by a 5-bp target site duplication, the signature of a recent transposition event, and was inserted in different open reading frames located on plasmids that varied in size and nature. Tn4401 is likely at the origin of carbapenem-hydrolyzing beta-lactamase KPC mobilization to plasmids and its further insertion into various-sized plasmids identified in nonclonally related K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa isolates.

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