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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2017 Jan;72(1):64-67. Epub 2016 Sep 12.

A new mosaic integrative and conjugative element from Streptococcus agalactiae carrying resistance genes for chloramphenicol (catQ) and macrolides [mef(I) and erm(TR)].

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Unit of Microbiology, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Public Health, Polytechnic University of Marche Medical School, Ancona, Italy.
Unit of Microbiology, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy.
Unit of Microbiology, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Public Health, Polytechnic University of Marche Medical School, Ancona, Italy



To investigate the genetic basis of catQ-mediated chloramphenicol resistance in Streptococcus agalactiae.


Two clinical strains of catQ-positive chloramphenicol-resistant S. agalactiae (Sag236 and Sag403) were recently isolated, typed (MLST, PFGE pulsotypes, capsular types) and their antibiotic resistances investigated by phenotypic and genotypic approaches. Several molecular methods (PCR mapping, restriction assays, Southern blotting, sequencing and sequence analysis, conjugal transfer assays) were used to determine the genetic context of catQ and characterize a genetic element detected in the isolates.


Sag236 and Sag403 shared the same ST (ST19), but exhibited a different capsular type (III and V, respectively) and pulsotype. Both harboured the macrolide resistance genes mef(I) and erm(TR) and the tetracycline resistance gene tet(M). Accordingly, they were resistant to chloramphenicol, erythromycin and tetracycline. catQ and mef(I) were associated in an IQ module that was indistinguishable in Sag236 and Sag403. In mating assays, chloramphenicol and erythromycin resistance proved transferable, at low frequency, only from Sag236. Transconjugants carried not only catQ and mef(I), but also erm(TR), suggesting a linkage of the three resistance genes in a mobile element, which, though seemingly non-mobile, was also detected in Sag403. The new element (designated ICESag236, ∼110 kb) results from recombination of two integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) originally described in different streptococcal species: S. agalactiae ICESagTR7, carrying erm(TR); and Streptococcus pneumoniae ICESpn529IQ, carrying the prototype IQ module.


These findings strengthen the notion that widespread streptococcal ICEs may form mosaics that enhance their diversity and spread, broaden their host range and carry new cargo genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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