Send to

Choose Destination
mBio. 2014 Jun 24;5(3):e01355-14. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01355-14.

Epidemic Klebsiella pneumoniae ST258 is a hybrid strain.

Author information

Public Health Research Institute Center, New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA.
Laboratory of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, Montana, USA.
Public Health Research Institute Center, New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA


Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), especially Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing K. pneumoniae, pose an urgent threat in health facilities in the United States and worldwide. K. pneumoniae isolates classified as sequence type 258 (ST258) by multilocus sequence typing are largely responsible for the global spread of KPC. A recent comparative genome study revealed that ST258 K. pneumoniae strains are two distinct genetic clades; however, the molecular origin of ST258 largely remains unknown, and our understanding of the evolution of the two genetic clades is incomplete. Here we compared the genetic structures and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) distributions in the core genomes of strains from two ST258 clades and other STs (ST11, ST442, and ST42). We identified an ~1.1-Mbp region on ST258 genomes that is homogeneous to that of ST442, while the rest of the ST258 genome resembles that of ST11. Our results suggest ST258 is a hybrid clone--80% of the genome originated from ST11-like strains and 20% from ST442-like strains. Meanwhile, we sequenced an ST42 strain that carries the same K-antigen-encoding capsule polysaccharide biosynthesis gene (cps) region as ST258 clade I strains. Comparison of the cps-harboring regions between the ST42 and ST258 strains (clades I and II) suggests the ST258 clade I strains evolved from a clade II strain as a result of cps region replacement. Our findings unravel the molecular evolution history of ST258 strains, an important first step toward the development of diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine strategies to combat infections caused by multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae.


Recombination events and replacement of chromosomal regions have been documented in various bacteria, and these events have given rise to successful pathogenic clones. Here we used comparative genomic analyses to discover that the ST258 K. pneumoniae genome is a hybrid--80% of the chromosome is homologous to ST11 strains, while the remaining 20% is homologous to that of ST442. Meanwhile, a recent study indicated that ST258 strains can be segregated into two ST258 clades, with distinct capsule polysaccharide gene (cps) regions. Our analysis suggests ST258 clade I strains evolved from clade II through homologous recombination of cps region. Horizontal transfer of the cps region appears to be a key element driving the molecular diversification in K. pneumoniae strains. These findings not only extend our understanding of the molecular evolution of ST258 but are an important step toward the development of effective control and treatment strategies for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center