Multiple antibiotic resistance gene recruitment onto the enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli virulence plasmid

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Journal Article
FASEB Journal, 2010, 24 (4), pp. 1160 - 1166
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Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains are zoonotic pathogens responsible for a range of severe human disease. The repertoire of virulence determinants promoting EHEC disease is encoded on both the main chromosome and virulence plasmid. We examined a multiply antibiotic-resistant O26 EHEC strain for carriage of resistance genes on the virulence plasmid. The EHEC virulence plasmid containing a complex antibiotic-resistance gene locus, designated as pO26-CRL, was purified from EHEC O26:H- (patient with hemorrhagic colitis) and subjected to shotgun-sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. Determination of the 111,481-bp sequence of pO26-CRL revealed genes encoding a functional enterohemolysin operon (ehxCABD), STEC-specific extracellular serine protease (espP), putative EHEC adhesin (toxB), catalase/peroxidase (katP), and myristoyl transferase (msbB) involved in lipid A synthesis. A 22,609-bp Tn21 derivative is inserted within the conjugal transfer gene traC and encodes resistance to trimethoprim, streptomycin, sulfathiozole, kanamycin, neomycin, β-lactams, and mercuric chloride. Plasmid pO26-CRL is nonconjugative but is mobilizable. This is the first report of an EHEC virulence plasmid containing a complex antibiotic resistance locus, and raises the concern that antibiotic use will coselect for virulence determinants, leading to increased disease potential in both commensal and pathogenic E. coli populations. © FASEB.
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