October 23, 2019  |  

Simultaneous non-contiguous deletions using large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases.

Toward achieving rapid and large scale genome modification directly in a target organism, we have developed a new genome engineering strategy that uses a combination of bioinformatics aided design, large synthetic DNA and site-specific recombinases. Using Cre recombinase we swapped a target 126-kb segment of the Escherichia coli genome with a 72-kb synthetic DNA cassette, thereby effectively eliminating over 54 kb of genomic DNA from three non-contiguous regions in a single recombination event. We observed complete replacement of the native sequence with the modified synthetic sequence through the action of the Cre recombinase and no competition from homologous recombination. Because of the versatility and high-efficiency of the Cre-lox system, this method can be used in any organism where this system is functional as well as adapted to use with other highly precise genome engineering systems. Compared to present-day iterative approaches in genome engineering, we anticipate this method will greatly speed up the creation of reduced, modularized and optimized genomes through the integration of deletion analyses data, transcriptomics, synthetic biology and site-specific recombination. © The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Discovery of enzymes for toluene synthesis from anoxic microbial communities.

Microbial toluene biosynthesis was reported in anoxic lake sediments more than three decades ago, but the enzyme catalyzing this biochemically challenging reaction has never been identified. Here we report the toluene-producing enzyme PhdB, a glycyl radical enzyme of bacterial origin that catalyzes phenylacetate decarboxylation, and its cognate activating enzyme PhdA, a radical S-adenosylmethionine enzyme, discovered in two distinct anoxic microbial communities that produce toluene. The unconventional process of enzyme discovery from a complex microbial community (>300,000 genes), rather than from a microbial isolate, involved metagenomics- and metaproteomics-enabled biochemistry, as well as in vitro confirmation of activity with recombinant enzymes. This work expands the known catalytic range of glycyl radical enzymes (only seven reaction types had been characterized previously) and aromatic-hydrocarbon-producing enzymes, and will enable first-time biochemical synthesis of an aromatic fuel hydrocarbon from renewable resources, such as lignocellulosic biomass, rather than from petroleum.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensively drug-resistant Escherichia coli sequence type 1642 carrying an IncX3 plasmid containing the blaKPC-2 gene associated with transposon Tn4401a.

Extensively drug-resistant (XDR) Enterobacteriaceae carrying the bla(KPC) gene have emerged as a major global therapeutic concern. The purpose of this study was to analyze the complete sequences of plasmids from KPC-2 carbapenemase-producing XDR Escherichia coli sequence type (ST) 1642 isolates.We performed antimicrobial susceptibility testing, PCR, multilocus sequence typing (MLST), and whole-genome sequencing to characterize the plasmid-mediated KPC-2-producing E. coli clinical isolates.The isolates were resistant to most available antibiotics, including meropenem, ampicillin, ceftriaxone, gentamicin, and ciprofloxacin, but susceptible to tigecycline and colistin. The isolates were identified as the rare ST1642 by MLST. The isolates carried four plasmids: the first 69-kb conjugative IncX3 plasmid harbors bla(KPC-2) within a truncated Tn4401a transposon and bla(SHV-11) with duplicated conjugative elements. The second 142-kb plasmid with a multireplicon consisting of IncQ, IncFIA, and IncIB carries bla(TEM-1b) and two class 1 integrons. This plasmid also harbors a wide variety of additional antimicrobial resistance genes including aadA5, dfrA17, mph(A), sul1, tet(B), aac(3′)-IId, strA, strB, and sul2.The complete sequence analysis of plasmids from an XDR E. coli strain related to persistent infection showed the coexistence of a bla(KPC-2)-carrying IncX3-type plasmid and a class 1 integron-harboring multireplicon, suggesting its potential to cause outbreaks. Of additional clinical significance, the rare ST1642, identified in a cat, could constitute the source of human infection.


September 22, 2019  |  

Functional metagenomics reveals a novel carbapenem-hydrolyzing mobile beta-lactamase from Indian river sediments contaminated with antibiotic production waste.

Evolution has provided environmental bacteria with a plethora of genes that give resistance to antibiotic compounds. Under anthropogenic selection pressures, some of these genes are believed to be recruited over time into pathogens by horizontal gene transfer. River sediment polluted with fluoroquinolones and other drugs discharged from bulk drug production in India constitute an environment with unprecedented, long-term antibiotic selection pressures. It is therefore plausible that previously unknown resistance genes have evolved and/or are promoted here. In order to search for novel resistance genes, we therefore analyzed such river sediments by a functional metagenomics approach. DNA fragments providing resistance to different antibiotics in E. coli were sequenced using Sanger and PacBio RSII platforms. We recaptured the majority of known antibiotic resistance genes previously identified by open shot-gun metagenomics sequencing of the same samples. In addition, seven novel resistance gene candidates (six beta-lactamases and one amikacin resistance gene) were identified. Two class A beta-lactamases, blaRSA1 and blaRSA2, were phylogenetically close to clinically important ESBLs like blaGES, blaBEL and blaL2, and were further characterized for their substrate spectra. The blaRSA1 protein, encoded as an integron gene cassette, efficiently hydrolysed penicillins, first generation cephalosporins and cefotaxime, while blaRSA2 was an inducible class A beta-lactamase, capable of hydrolyzing carbapenems albeit with limited efficiency, similar to the L2 beta-lactamase from Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. All detected novel genes were associated with plasmid mobilization proteins, integrons, and/or other resistance genes, suggesting a potential for mobility. This study provides insight into a resistome shaped by an exceptionally strong and long-term antibiotic selection pressure. An improved knowledge of mobilized resistance factors in the external environment may make us better prepared for the resistance challenges that we may face in clinics in the future. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of plasmids harboring blaCTX-M and blaCMY genes in E. coli from French broilers.

Resistance to extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESC) is a global health issue. The aim of this study was to analyze and compare plasmids coding for resistance to ESC isolated from 16 avian commensal and 17 avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) strains obtained respectively at slaughterhouse or from diseased broilers in 2010-2012. Plasmid DNA was used to transform E. coli DH5alpha, and the resistances of the transformants were determined. The sequences of the ESC-resistance plasmids prepared from transformants were obtained by Illumina (33 plasmids) or PacBio (1 plasmid). Results showed that 29 of these plasmids contained the blaCTX-M-1 gene and belonged to the IncI1/ST3 type, with 27 and 20 of them carrying the sul2 or tet(A) genes respectively. Despite their diverse origins, several plasmids showed very high percentages of identity. None of the blaCTX-M-1-containing plasmid contained APEC virulence genes, although some of them were detected in the parental strains. Three plasmids had the blaCMY-2 gene, but no other resistance gene. They belonged to IncB/O/K/Z-like or IncFIA/FIB replicon types. The blaCMY-2 IncFIA/FIB plasmid was obtained from a strain isolated from a diseased broiler and also containing a blaCTX-M-1 IncI1/ST3 plasmid. Importantly APEC virulence genes (sitA-D, iucA-D, iutA, hlyF, ompT, etsA-C, iss, iroB-E, iroN, cvaA-C and cvi) were detected on the blaCMY-2 plasmid. In conclusion, our results show the dominance and high similarity of blaCTX-M-1 IncI1/ST3 plasmids, and the worrying presence of APEC virulence genes on a blaCMY-2 plasmid.


September 22, 2019  |  

High genetic plasticity in multidrug-resistant sequence type 3-IncHI2 plasmids revealed by sequence comparison and phylogenetic analysis.

We report a novel fusion plasmid, pP2-3T, cointegrating sequence type 3 (ST3)-IncHI2 with an IncFII plasmid backbone mediating multidrug resistance (MDR) and virulence. Phylogenetic analysis and comparative genomics revealed that pP2-3T and other MDR ST3-IncHI2 plasmids clustered together, representing a unique IncHI2 lineage that exhibited high conservation in backbones of plasmids but possessed highly genetic plasticity in various regions by acquiring numerous antibiotic resistance genes and fusing with other plasmids. Surveillance studies should be performed to monitor multiresistance IncHI2 plasmids among Enterobacteriaceae. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

A combinatorial approach to synthetic transcription factor-promoter combinations for yeast strain engineering.

Despite the need for inducible promoters in strain development efforts, the majority of engineering in Saccharomyces cerevisiae continues to rely on a few constitutively active or inducible promoters. Building on advances that use the modular nature of both transcription factors and promoter regions, we have built a library of hybrid promoters that are regulated by a synthetic transcription factor. The hybrid promoters consist of native S. cerevisiae promoters, in which the operator regions have been replaced with sequences that are recognized by the bacterial LexA DNA binding protein. Correspondingly, the synthetic transcription factor (TF) consists of the DNA binding domain of the LexA protein, fused with the human estrogen binding domain and the viral activator domain, VP16. The resulting system with a bacterial DNA binding domain avoids the transcription of native S. cerevisiae genes, and the hybrid promoters can be induced using estradiol, a compound with no detectable impact on S. cerevisiae physiology. Using combinations of one, two or three operator sequence repeats and a set of native S. cerevisiae promoters, we obtained a series of hybrid promoters that can be induced to different levels, using the same synthetic TF and a given estradiol. This set of promoters, in combination with our synthetic TF, has the potential to regulate numerous genes or pathways simultaneously, to multiple desired levels, in a single strain.© 2017 The Authors. Yeast published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Recombination of plasmids in a carbapenem-resistant NDM-5-producing clinical Escherichia coli isolate.

To investigate the genetic features of five plasmids recovered from an NDM-5-producing clinical Escherichia coli strain, BJ114, and to characterize the plasmid recombination event that occurred during the conjugation process.The genetic profiles of the five plasmids were determined by PCR, conjugation, S1-PFGE, Southern hybridization and WGS analysis. Plasmid sequences were analysed with various bioinformatic tools.Complete sequences of five plasmids were obtained. Two small plasmids, pBJ114-141 and pBJ114-46, were speculated to have recombined into a large fusion plasmid, pBJ114T-190. When conjugated to other E. coli strains, some of the fusion plasmids were able to be resolved into the original two single plasmids. A non-conjugative plasmid, pBJ114-96, exhibited a high degree of sequence identity with the phage P7-like plasmid as well as an mcr-1-bearing plasmid. Another plasmid, pBJ114-78, was found to contain multidrug resistance genes and various mobile elements.The fusion plasmid recoverable from the transconjugant was found to be generated as a result of a recombination event that occurred upon interaction between a blaNDM-5-carrying plasmid and another plasmid present in the parental strain. Such recombination events presumably play a potential role in the dissemination of the blaNDM genes among different plasmids and pathogenic bacterial strains.


September 22, 2019  |  

An improved medium for colistin susceptibility testing.

The plasmid-located colistin resistance gene mcr-1 confers low-level resistance to colistin, a last-line antibiotic against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Current CLSI-EUCAST recommendations require the use of a broth microdilution (BMD) method with cation-adjusted Mueller-Hinton (CA-MH) medium for colistin susceptibility testing, but approximately 15% of all MCR-1 producers are classified as sensitive in that broth. Here we report on an improved calcium-enhanced Mueller-Hinton (CE-MH) medium that permits simple and reliable determination of mcr-1-containing Enterobacteriaceae Colistin susceptibility testing was performed for 50 mcr-1-containing Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates, 7 intrinsically polymyxin-resistant species, K. pneumoniae and E. coli isolates with acquired resistance to polymyxins due to mgrB and pmrB mutations, respectively, and 32 mcr-1-negative, colistin-susceptible isolates of Acinetobacter baumannii, Citrobacter freundii, Enterobacter cloacae, E. coli, K. pneumoniae, and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. A comparison of the colistin MICs determined in CA-MH medium and those obtained in CE-MH medium was performed using both the BMD and strip-based susceptibility test formats. We validated the data using an isogenic IncX4 plasmid lacking mcr-1 Use of the CE-MH broth provides clear separation between resistant and susceptible isolates in both BMD and gradient diffusion assays; this is true for both mcr-1-containing Enterobacteriaceae isolates and those exhibiting either intrinsic or acquired colistin resistance. CE-MH medium is simple to prepare and overcomes current problems associated with BMD and strip-based colistin susceptibility testing, and use of the medium is easy to implement in routine diagnostic laboratories, even in resource-poor settings. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Whole sequences and characteristics of mcr-1-harboring plasmids of Escherichia coli strains isolated from livestock in South Korea.

Of 11 mcr-1-harboring plasmids previously identified from livestock in Korea, we performed whole plasmid sequencing on 3 plasmids and determined the genetic structure surrounding mcr-1 for all 11 plasmids. Transconjugation frequencies were measured for all mcr-1-harboring plasmids and competitive growth experiments were performed to investigate the fitness cost of each plasmid. Although they belong to different clones, the mcr-1-harboring plasmids, pEC006 and pEC019, were highly similar to the first identified mcr-1-carrying Incl2-type plasmid, pHNSHP45. Another IncX4-type plasmid, pEC111, had completely different structure from these plasmids, but was similar to pMCR1-IncX4. A nearly identical 11.3?kb mcr-1 region (nikB-ISApl1-mcr-1-pap2-topB) was shared by all mcr-1-harboring plasmids except pEC111. The transfer rate of mcr-1-harboring plasmids was highly variable (10-11 to 10-3) and was not related to plasmid structure. Competitive growth experiments revealed that the fitness of all three transconjugants with mcr-1-harboring plasmids increased compared with that of the recipient strain, Escherichia coli J53. The mcr-1-harboring plasmids may have been repeatedly introduced into bacterial isolates since the initial introduction of the mcr-1-positive strain from other countries into South Korea. Transferability and reduced burden to the host of mcr-1-harboring plasmid may lead to the proliferation of colistin-resistant isolates in the future. Therefore, continuous monitoring is necessary.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of the complete sequences and stability of plasmids carrying the genes aac(6′)-Ib-cr or qnrS in Shigella flexneri in the Hangzhou area of China.

The aim of this study was to explore the fluoroquinolone resistance mechanism of aac (6′)-Ib-cr and qnrS gene by comparing complete sequences and stability of the aac(6′)-Ib-cr- and qnrS-positive plasmids from Shigella isolates in the Hangzhou area of China. The complete sequences of four newly acquired plasmids carrying aac(6′)-Ib-cr or qnrS were compared with those of two plasmids obtained previously and two similar reference Escherichia coli plasmids. The results showed that the length, antibiotic resistance genes and genetic environment were different among the plasmids. Moreover, the plasmid stability of three wild-type isolates and five plasmid transformants carrying aac(6′)-Ib-cr and/or qnrS was measured in vitro, and all eight isolates were found to have lost their aac(6′)-Ib-cr- or qnrS-positive plasmids to a different extent at different stages. When the plasmids were electroporated into Shigella flexneri or they lost positive plasmids, the MICs of ciprofloxacin increased or decreased two- to eightfold for aac(6′)-Ib-cr-positive plasmids and 16- to 32-fold for qnrS-positive plasmids. To our knowledge, this is the first report comparing the complete sequences and describing stability for the aac(6′)-Ib-cr- and qnrS-positive plasmids from Shigella isolates.


September 22, 2019  |  

Clinical Staphylococcus argenteus develops to small colony variants to promote persistent infection.

Staphylococcus argenteus is a novel staphylococcal species (also considered as a part of Staphylococcus aureus complex) that is infrequently reported on, and clinical S. argenteus infections are largely unstudied. Here, we report a persistent and recurrent hip joint infection case in which a S. argenteus strain and its small colony variants (SCVs) strain were successively isolated. We present features of the two S. argenteus strains and case details of their pathogenicity, explore factors that induce S. argenteus SCVs formation in the course of anti-infection therapy, and reveal potential genetic mechanisms for S. argenteus SCVs formation. S. argenteus strains were identified using phenotypic and genotypic methods. The S. argenteus strain XNO62 and SCV strain XNO106 were characterized using different models. S. argenteus SCVs were induced by the administration of amikacin and by chronic infection course based on the clinical case details. The genomes of both strains were sequenced and aligned in a pair-wise fashion using Mauve. The case details gave us important insights on the characteristics and therapeutic strategies for infections caused by S. argenteus and its SCVs. We found that strain XNO62 and SCV strain XNO106 are genetically-related sequential clones, the SCV strain exhibits reduced virulence but enhanced intracellular persistence compared to strain XNO62, thus promoting persistent infection. The induction experiments for S. argenteus SCVs demonstrated that high concentrations of amikacin greatly induce S. argenteus XNO62 to form SCVs, while a chronic infection of S. argenteus XNO62 slightly induces SCVs formation. Potential genetic mechanisms for S. argenteus SCVs formation were revealed and discussed based on genomic alignments. In conclusion, we report the first case of infection caused by S. argenteus and its SCVs strain. More attention should be paid to infections caused by S. argenteus and its SCVs, as they constitute a challenge to current therapeutic strategies. The problem of S. argenteus SCVs should be noticed, in particular when amikacin is used or in the case of a chronic S. argenteus infection.


September 22, 2019  |  

Pol V-mediated translesion synthesis elicits localized untargeted mutagenesis during post-replicative gap repair.

In vivo, replication forks proceed beyond replication-blocking lesions by way of downstream repriming, generating daughter strand gaps that are subsequently processed by post-replicative repair pathways such as homologous recombination and translesion synthesis (TLS). The way these gaps are filled during TLS is presently unknown. The structure of gap repair synthesis was assessed by sequencing large collections of single DNA molecules that underwent specific TLS events in vivo. The higher error frequency of specialized relative to replicative polymerases allowed us to visualize gap-filling events at high resolution. Unexpectedly, the data reveal that a specialized polymerase, Pol V, synthesizes stretches of DNA both upstream and downstream of a site-specific DNA lesion. Pol V-mediated untargeted mutations are thus spread over several hundred nucleotides, strongly eliciting genetic instability on either side of a given lesion. Consequently, post-replicative gap repair may be a source of untargeted mutations critical for gene diversification in adaptation and evolution. Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification and characterization of conjugative plasmids that encode ciprofloxacin resistance in Salmonella.

This study aimed to characterize novel conjugative plasmids that encode transferrable ciprofloxacin resistance in Salmonella In this study, 157 non-duplicated Salmonella isolates were recovered from food products, 55 out of which were found to be resistant to ciprofloxacin. Interestingly, 37 out of the 55 (67%) CipRSalmonella isolates did not harbor any mutations in the Quinolone resistance determine regions (QRDR). Interestingly, six Salmonella isolates were shown to carry two novel types of conjugative plasmids that could transfer ciprofloxacin resistance phenotype to E. coli J53 (AziR). The first type belonged to the ~110kb IncFIB type conjugative plasmid carrying qnrB-bearing and aac(6′)-Ib-cr-bearing mobile elements. Transfer of the plasmid between E. coli or Salmonella could confer CIP MIC to 1 to 2µg/ml. The second type of conjugative plasmid belonged to ~240kb IncH1/IncF plasmids carrying a single PMQR gene, qnrS Importantly, this type of conjugative ciprofloxacin resistance plasmids could be detected in clinical isolates of Salmonella Dissemination of these conjugative plasmids that confer ciprofloxaicn resistance poses serious public health impact and Salmonella infection control. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Emergence of XDR Escherichia coli carrying both blaNDM and mcr-1 genes in chickens at slaughter and the characterization of two novel blaNDM-bearing plasmids.

The emergence and spread of carbapenem-resistant isolates, especially New Delhi MBL (NDM)-producing Enterobacteriaceae, has become a global concern. Although NDM-producing Enterobacteriaceae have been mostly observed in clinical cases, they have also been identified in food-producing animals and wildlife. Recently, XDR bacteria harbouring both blaNDMand mcr-1 genes were observed in isolates from animals, posing a potential threat to public health. However, reports on the coexistence of blaNDMand mcr-1 in bacteria isolated from animals at slaughter remains sporadic. Here, we report two Escherichia coli strains, SD133 and SD138, co-producing NDM and MCR-1, isolated from chickens at slaughter in July 2015 in China.


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