Acquisition of plasmids conferring carbapenem and aminoglycoside resistance and loss of surface-exposed macromolecule structures as strategies for the adaptation of Acinetobacter baumannii CC104O/CC15P strains to the clinical setting



Acinetobacter baumannii (Aba) is an emerging opportunistic pathogen associated to nosocomial infections. The rapid increase in multidrug resistance (MDR) among Aba strains underscores the urgency of understanding how this pathogen evolves in the clinical environment. We conducted here a whole-genome sequence comparative analysis of three phylogenetically and epidemiologically related MDR Aba strains from Argentinean hospitals, assigned to the CC104O /CC15P clonal complex. While the Ab244 strain was carbapenem-susceptible, Ab242 and Ab825, isolated after the introduction of carbapenem therapy, displayed resistance to these last resource β-lactams. We found a high chromosomal synteny among the three strains, but significant differences at their accessory genomes. Most importantly, carbapenem resistance in Ab242 and Ab825 was attributed to the acquisition of a Rep_3 family plasmid carrying a blaOXA-58 gene. Other differences involved a genomic island car rying resistance to toxic compounds and a Tn10 element exclusive to Ab244 and Ab825, respectively. Also remarkably, 44 insertion sequences (ISs) were uncovered in Ab825, in contrast with the 14 and 11 detected in Ab242 and Ab244, respectively. Moreover, Ab825 showed a higher killing capacity as compared to the other two strains in the Galleria mellonella infection model. A search for virulence and persistence deter minants indicated the loss or IS-mediated interruption of genes encoding many surface-exposed macromolecules in Ab825, suggesting that these events are responsible for its higher relative virulence. The comparative genomic analyses of the CC104O /CC15P strains conducted here revealed the contribution of acquired mobile genetic elements such as ISs and plasmids to the adaptation of A. baumannii to the clinical setting.

Palabras clave

Acinetobacter baumannii, Genomics, Drug Resistance, Multiple, Carbapenem Resistance, Virulence Factors, blaOXA-58