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Microbes Infect. 2006 Jun;8(7):1931-6. Epub 2006 Mar 27.

Evolution of the virulence plasmids of non-typhoid Salmonella and its association with antimicrobial resistance.

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Department of Applied Microbiology, National Chiayi University, Chiayi, Taiwan.


Among more than 2,500 serovars, eight contain a virulence plasmid, including medically important Salmonella enterica serovars Choleraesuis, Dublin, Enteritidis, and Typhimurium. These serovar-specific virulence plasmids vary in size, but all contain the spv operon, which plays a role in the expression of the virulence. Genetically, these virulence plasmids are likely derived from a common ancestral plasmid possessing virulence-related genes and loci. Based on the analysis of the available DNA sequences of the plasmids, the phylogenetic path may be split into two: pSPV (virulence plasmid of S. Gallinarum-Pullorum) acquires an incompatibility-related locus that differs from that of the others. At some point, pSCV (virulence plasmid of S. Choleraesuis) and pSDV (virulence plasmid of S. Dublin) lose oriT by recombination or simply by deletion, making the two unable to be mobilized. On the other hand, pSEV (virulence plasmid of S. Enteritidis) also loses some DNA by deletion but not as extensively as pSCV, and therefore pSEV is closest to pSTV (virulence plasmid of S. Typhimurium) both genetically and biologically. The pSTV shows the least alternation during the evolution. There are two types of pSDV. pSDVu recombines with non-virulence 36.6-kb plasmid to acquire additional incompatibility trait to form pSDVr. Recent reports indicated that S. Choleraesuis and S. Typhimurium could generate different types of hybrid plasmids, which consisted of the serovar-specific virulence plasmid and an array of resistance gene cassettes. The recombination gives Salmonella a survival advantage in an unfavorable drug environment. The integration of resistance genes and additional replicons into a Salmonella virulence plasmid constitutes a new and interesting example of plasmid evolution and poses a serious threat to public health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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