Characterization of the diverse plasmid pool harbored by the blaNDM-1-containing Acinetobacter bereziniae HPC229 clinical strain



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Public Library of Science (PLOS)
Acinetobacter bereziniae is an environmental microorganism with increasing clinical incidence, and may thus provide a model for a bacterial species bridging the gap between the environment and the clinical setting. A. bereziniae plasmids have been poorly studied, and their characterization could offer clues on the causes underlying the leap between these two different habitats. Here we characterized the whole plasmid content of A. bereziniae HPC229, a clinical strain previously reported to harbor a 44-kbp plasmid, pNDM229, confer ring carbapenem and aminoglycoside resistance. We identified five extra plasmids in HPC229 ranging from 114 to 1.3 kbp, including pAbe229-114 (114 kbp) encoding a MOBP111 relaxase and carrying heavy metal resistance, a bacteriophage defense BREX system and four different toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems. Two other replicons, pAbe229-15 (15.4 kbp) and pAbe229-9 (9.1 kbp), both encoding MOBQ1 relaxases and also carrying TA systems, were found. The three latter plasmids contained Acinetobacter Rep_3 superfamily replication initiator protein genes, and functional analysis of their transfer regions revealed the mobilizable nature of them. HPC229 also harbors two smaller plasmids, pAbe229-4 (4.4 kbp) and pAbe229-1 (1.3 kbp), the former bearing a ColE1-type replicon and a TA system, and the latter lacking known replication functions. Comparative sequence analyses against deposited Acinetobacter genomes indicated that the above five HPC229 plasmids were unique, although some regions were also present in other of these genomes. The transfer, replication, and adaptive modules in pAbe229-15, and the stability module in pAbe229-9, were bordered by sites potentially recognized by XerC/XerD site-specific tyrosine recombi nases, thus suggesting a potential mechanism for their acquisition. The presence of Rep_3 and ColE1-based replication modules, different mob genes, distinct adaptive functions including resistance to heavy metal and other environmental stressors, as well as antimicrobial resistance genes, and a high content of XerC/XerD sites among HPC229 plasmids provide evidence of substantial links with bacterial species derived from both environmental and clinical habitats.

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Acinetobacter bereziniae, Plasmids, Gene Transfer, Horizontal