April 21, 2020  |  

Advantage of the F2:A1:B- IncF Pandemic Plasmid over IncC Plasmids in In Vitro Acquisition and Evolution of blaCTX-M Gene-Bearing Plasmids in Escherichia coli.

Despite a fitness cost imposed on bacterial hosts, large conjugative plasmids play a key role in the diffusion of resistance determinants, such as CTX-M extended-spectrum ß-lactamases. Among the large conjugative plasmids, IncF plasmids are the most predominant group, and an F2:A1:B- IncF-type plasmid encoding a CTX-M-15 variant was recently described as being strongly associated with the emerging worldwide Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (ST131)-O25b:H4 H30Rx/C2 sublineage. In this context, we investigated the fitness cost of narrow-range F-type plasmids, including the F2:A1:B- IncF-type CTX-M-15 plasmid, and of broad-range C-type plasmids in the K-12-like J53-2 E. coli strain. Although all plasmids imposed a significant fitness cost to the bacterial host immediately after conjugation, we show, using an experimental-evolution approach, that a negative impact on the fitness of the host strain was maintained throughout 1,120 generations with the IncC-IncR plasmid, regardless of the presence or absence of cefotaxime, in contrast to the F2:A1:B- IncF plasmid, whose cost was alleviated. Many chromosomal and plasmid rearrangements were detected after conjugation in transconjugants carrying the IncC plasmids but not in transconjugants carrying the F2:A1:B- IncF plasmid, except for insertion sequence (IS) mobilization from the fliM gene leading to the restoration of motility of the recipient strains. Only a few mutations occurred on the chromosome of each transconjugant throughout the experimental-evolution assay. Our findings indicate that the F2:A1:B- IncF CTX-M-15 plasmid is well adapted to the E. coli strain studied, contrary to the IncC-IncR CTX-M-15 plasmid, and that such plasmid-host adaptation could participate in the evolutionary success of the CTX-M-15-producing pandemic E. coli ST131-O25b:H4 lineage.Copyright © 2019 Mahérault et al.


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