F14:A-:B- and IncX4 Inc group cfr-positive plasmids circulating in Escherichia coli of animal origin in Northeast China

Xiumei Wang, Yao Zhu, Xin Hua, Fuguang Chen, Changzhen Wang, Yanhe Zhang, Siguo Liu, Wanjiang Zhang
Veterinary Microbiology 2018, 217: 53-57
The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of the cfr gene in Escherichia coli isolates from domestic animals in Northeast China and to characterize the cfr-containing plasmids. Between June 2015 and April 2016, 370 E. coli isolates were collected from pigs, chickens, and dairy cows in Northeast China. Among these, 111 were florfenicol resistant, including 109 isolates carrying the floR gene and 6 positives for cfr. The prevalence of cfr in E. coli isolates from the four northeast provinces in China was 1.6% (6/370), which was higher than that previously reported (0.08% and 0.5%). All six cfr-containing E. coli isolates were highly resistant to florfenicol (100%), cefotaxime (100%), and fosfomycin (100%). Complete sequence analysis of two cfr-carrying plasmids revealed high homology of the IncX4-type pEC14cfr plasmid with two other cfr-harboring plasmids, pSD11 and pGXEC6, found in swine E. coli isolates from southern China. pEC14cfr-like plasmids have been isolated in five provinces in southern and northern China. The isolation sites were up to 2700 kilometers apart, implying that pEC14cfr-like plasmids are likely to be national epidemic cfr-carrying plasmids that mediate the dissemination of cfr in China. Moreover, the genetic structure (IS26-IS26-cfr-rec-pre/mob-ramA-IS26) of the second cfr-carrying plasmid, IncF14:A-:B- pEC295cfr, represents a novel genetic environment for cfr identified for the first time in the present study. Sequence homology analysis indicated that the cfr-carrying element was most likely introduced into a cfr-negative pEC12 plasmid backbone, which evolved into the cfr-carrying vector, pEC295cfr. Moreover, isolation of the IncF14:A-:B- pEC295cfr plasmid harboring cfr suggests that IncFII plasmids maybe have become additional effective vehicles for cfr dissemination. These results highlight the importance of surveying the prevalence of IncX4 and IncFII plasmids in gram-negative bacteria, especially in swine E. coli isolates.

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