Evolution of regions containing antibiotic resistance genes in FII-2-FIB-1 ColV-ColIa virulence plasmids

16 May 2018

Three ColV virulence plasmids carrying antibiotic resistance genes were assembled from draft genome sequences of commensal ST95, ST131, and ST2705 Escherichia coli isolates from healthy Australians. Plasmids pCERC4, pCERC5, and pCERC9 include almost identical backbones containing FII-2 and FIB-1 replicons and the conserved ColV virulence region with an additional ColIa determinant. Only pCERC5 includes a complete, uninterrupted F-like transfer region and was able to conjugate. pCERC5 and pCERC9 contain Tn1721, carrying the tet(A) tetracycline resistance determinant in the same location, with Tn2 (blaTEM; ampicillin resistance) interrupting the Tn1721 in pCERC5. pCERC4 has a Tn1721/Tn21 hybrid transposon carrying dfrA5 (trimethoprim resistance) and sul1 (sulfamethoxazole resistance) in a class 1 integron. Four FII-2:FIB-1 ColVColIa plasmids in the GenBank nucleotide database have a related transposon in the same position, but an IS26 has reshaped the resistance gene region, deleting 2,069 bp of the integron 3ยข-CS, including sul1, and serving as a target for IS26 translocatable units containing blaTEM, sul2 and strAB (streptomycin resistance), or aphA1 (kanamycin/neomycin resistance). Another ColV-ColIa plasmid containing a related resistance gene region has lost the FII replicon and acquired a unique transfer region via recombination within the resistance region and at oriT. Eighteen further complete ColV plasmid sequences in GenBank contained FIB-1, but the FII replicons were of three types, FII-24, FII-18, and a variant of FII-36.