Compatibility and entry exclusion of IncA and IncC plasmids revisited: IncA and IncC plasmids are compatible

09 March 2018

In an early study, IncA and IncC plasmids that were reported to be compatible were grouped as the “A-C complex” based on similarities and on strong entry exclusion. However, recently, the term IncA/C has been used frequently to describe plasmids belonging to both of these two groups. Granted that the supporting data was not included in the original reports and that the consensus iteron sequences have since been shown to be essentially identical, we have addressed the question again. The original IncA plasmid, RA1, and the IncC plasmid pRMH760, were introduced into the same cell by transformation, and were found to be maintained stably for over 100 generations in the absence of selection for either plasmid, i.e. they were compatible. We conclude that use of the term IncA/C for this important plasmid group is indeed incorrect and it causes unnecessary confusion. Granted the importance of IncC plasmids in the spread of antibiotic resistance genes, we recommend that use of the misleading terms IncA/C, IncA/C1 and IncA/C2 should cease. In addition, RA1 and pRMH760 were shown to each completely prevent entry of the other via conjugative transfer into the cell they reside in.