Transmissible silver resistance readily evolves in high-risk clone isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae

Hanczvikkel, Adrienn and Füzi, Miklós and Ungvári, Erika and Tóth, Ákos (2018) Transmissible silver resistance readily evolves in high-risk clone isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae. Acta Microbiologica et Immunologica Hungarica, 65 (3). pp. 387-403. ISSN 1217-8950


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Silver is used extensively in both hospitals and outpatient clinics as a disinfectant coating agent on various devices. Resistance to silver was recently reported as an emerging problem in Enterobacteriaceae. Multidrug-resistant high-risk clones of Klebsiella pneumoniae are common causes of serious healthcare-associated infections worldwide posing a serious threat to patients. In this study, we investigated the capacity of both high-risk (CG14/15 and CG258) and minor clone strains of K. pneumoniae to develop resistance to silver. Resistance was induced in vitro in silver-susceptible but otherwise multidrug-resistant clinical isolates. Genetic alterations in the silver-resistant derivative strains with regard to the silver-susceptible isolates were investigated by whole-genome sequencing. The transferability of high-level resistance to silver was also tested. We demonstrated that the high-level resistance to silver can quickly evolve as a consequence of a single-point mutation either in the cusS gene of the chromosomally encoded CusCFBARS efflux system and/or in the silS gene of the plasmid-encoded Copper Homeostasis and Silver Resistance Island (CHASRI) coding also for a metallic efflux. The minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of the strains increased from 4 mg/L (23.5 μM) AgNO<sub>3</sub> to >8,500 mg/L (>50,000 μM) AgNO<sub>3</sub> during induction. Harboring the CHASRI proved an important selective asset for K. pneumoniae when exposed to silver. Successful conjugation experiments using Escherichia coli K12 J5-3<sup>Rif</sup> as recipient showed that high-level silver resistance can transmit between strains of high-risk clones of K. pneumoniae (ST15 and ST11) and isolates from additional species of Enterobacteriaceae. The lack of fitness cost associated with the carriage of the CHASRI in a silver-free environment and the presence of the RelEB toxin–antitoxin system on the conjugative plasmids could advance the dissemination of silver resistance. Our results show that multidrug-resistant high-risk clones of K. pneumoniae are capable of evolving and transmitting high-level resistance to silver. This observation should warrant a more judicious use of silver coated-devices to prevent the extensive dissemination of silver resistance.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QR Microbiology / mikrobiológia
Depositing User: Ágnes Sallai
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2018 09:54
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2019 23:15

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