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Microbiome. 2017 Jul 6;5(1):70. doi: 10.1186/s40168-017-0288-0.

Expanding landscapes of the diversified mcr-1-bearing plasmid reservoirs.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, 310058, Zhejiang, China.
National Risk Assessment Laboratory for Antimicrobial Resistance of Animal Original Bacteria, College of Veterinary Medicine, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, 510642, Guangdong, China.
Key Laboratory of Bioorganic Synthesis of Zhejiang Province, College of Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou, 310014, Zhejiang, China.
Lishui People's Hospital, Lishui, 323000, Zhejiang, China.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, 310058, Zhejiang, China.



Polymyxin is a cationic polypeptide antibiotic that can disrupt bacterial cell membrane by interacting with its lipopolysaccharide molecules and is used as a last resort drug against lethal infections by the carbapenem-resistant superbugs (like NDM-1). However, global discovery of the MCR-1 colistin resistance dramatically challenges the newly renewed interest in colistin for clinical use.


The mcr-1-harboring plasmids were acquired from swine and human Escherichia coli isolated in China, from 2015 to 2016, and subjected to Illumina PacBio RSII and Hi-Seq2000 for full genome sequencing. PCR was applied to close the gap of the assembled contigs. Ori-Finder was employed to predict the replication origin (oriC) in plasmids. The phenotype of MCR-1-producing isolates was evaluated on the LBA plates with various level of colistin. Genetic deletion was used to test the requirement of the initial "ATG" codon for the MCR-1 function.


Here, we report full genomes of over 10 mcr-1-harboring plasmids with diversified replication incompatibilities. A novel hybrid IncI2/IncFIB plasmid pGD17-2 was discovered and characterized from a swine isolate with colistin resistance. Intriguingly, co-occurrence of two unique mcr-1-bearing plasmids (pGD65-3, IncI2, and pGD65-5, IncX4) was detected in a single isolate GD65, which might accelerate dissemination of the mcr-1 under environmental selection pressure. Genetic analyses of these plasmids mapped mobile elements in the context of antibiotic resistance and determined two insertion sequences (ISEcp1 and ISApl1) that are responsible for the mobilization of mcr-1. Gene deletion also proved that the first ATG codon is redundant in the mcr-1 gene.


Collectively, our results extend landscapes of the diversified mcr-1-bearing plasmid reservoirs.


Colistin resistance; Dissemination; Landscape; Plasmid genome; mcr-1

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