Genetic organization of transposase regions surrounding blaKPC carbapenemase genes on plasmids from Klebsiella strains isolated in a New York City hospital

Thomas D Gootz, Mary Kay Lescoe, Fadia Dib-Hajj, Brian A Dougherty, Wen He, Phyllis Della-Latta, Richard C Huard
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 2009, 53 (5): 1998-2004
Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella strains carrying Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemases (KPC) are endemic to New York City and are spreading across the United States and internationally. Recent studies have indicated that the KPC structural gene is located on a 10-kb plasmid-borne element designated Tn4401. Fourteen Klebsiella pneumoniae strains and one Klebsiella oxytoca strain isolated at a New York City hospital in 2005 carrying either bla(KPC-2) or bla(KPC-3) were examined for isoforms of Tn4401. Ten of the Klebsiella strains contained a 100-bp deletion in Tn4401, corresponding to the Tn4401a isoform. The presence of this deletion adjacent to the upstream promoter region of bla(KPC) in Tn4401a resulted in a different -35 promoter sequence of TGGAGA than that of CTGATT present in isoform Tn4401b. Complete sequencing of one plasmid carrying bla(KPC) from each of three nonclonal isolates indicated the presence of genes encoding other types of antibiotic resistance determinants. The 70.6-kb plasmid from K. pneumoniae strain S9 carrying bla(KPC-2) revealed two identical copies of Tn4401b inserted in an inverse fashion, but in this case, one of the elements disrupted a group II self-splicing intron. In K. pneumoniae strain S15, the Tn4401a element carrying bla(KPC-2) was found on both a large 120-kb plasmid and a smaller 24-kb plasmid. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis results indicate that the isolates studied represent a heterogeneous group composed of unrelated as well as closely related Klebsiella strains. Our results suggest that endemic KPC-positive Klebsiella strains constitute a generally nonclonal population comprised of various alleles of bla(KPC) on several distinct plasmid genetic backgrounds. This study increases our understanding of the genetic composition of the evolving and expanding role of KPC-producing, healthcare-associated, gram-negative pathogens.

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