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Front Microbiol. 2019 Jan 15;9:3341. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03341. eCollection 2018.

Genetic Diversity of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) Clinical Isolates From a Tertiary Hospital in Eastern China.

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Department of Clinical Laboratory, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, China.
Department of Clinical Laboratory, Jiangyin Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Jiangyin, China.
Department of Clinical Laboratory, The Fifth People's Hospital of Suzhou, Suzhou, China.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China.
Public Health Research Institute Tuberculosis Center, New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, United States.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, United States.
Department of Clinical Laboratory, The North District of Affiliated Suzhou Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Suzhou, China.


The prevalence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) is increasing globally, with different molecular mechanisms described. Here we studied the molecular mechanisms of carbapenem resistance, including clonal and plasmid dissemination, of 67 CRE isolates collected between 2012 and 2016 from a tertiary hospital in Eastern China, an CRE endemic region. Species identification and susceptibility testing were performed using the BD Phoenix Automated Microbiology System. Isolates were characterized by PCR (for carbapenemases, ESBLs, AmpC and porin genes), multilocus sequence typing (MLST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and conjugation transfer experiments. Selected bla KPC-2 -harboring plasmids were subjected to next-generation sequencing using the Illumina Miseq platform. Among the 67 CRE isolates, 42 Klebsiella pneumoniae, 10 Serratia marcescens, 6 Enterobacter cloacae, 2 Raoultella ornithinolytica, 2 K. oxytoca, 1 K. aerogenes, and 4 Escherichia coli isolates were identified. Six different carbapenemases were detected, including bla KPC-2 (n = 45), bla KPC-3 (n = 1), bla NDM-1 (n = 6), bla NDM-5 (n = 1), bla IMP-4 (n = 2), and bla VIM-1 (n = 2); bla OXA-48-like genes were not detected. One E. cloacae strain possessed both bla NDM-1 and bla KPC-3, while two E. cloacae isolates harbored bla NDM-1 and bla VIM-1. ESBLs (CTX-M, SHV, and TEM) and/or AmpC (CMY, DHA, and ACT/MIR) genes were also identified in 59 isolates, including 13 strains that lacked carbapenemases. Several insertions or stop codon mutations were found within porin genes of K. pneumoniae, E. coli and S. marcescens isolates, both with and without carbapenemases. The 42 K. pneumoniae isolates belonged to 12 different sequence types (ST), with ST11 being the most common, while the 6 E. cloacae isolates comprised 4 different STs. The 10 S. marcescens all shared the same PFGE pulsotype, suggestive of clonal spread. Complete plasmid sequencing and PCR screening revealed both intra-strain and inter-species spread of a common bla KPC-2-harboring plasmid in our hospital. Taken together, our study revealed extensive genetic diversity among CRE isolates form a single Chinese hospital. CRE isolates circulating in the hospital differ significantly in their species, STs, porin genes, carbapenemase genes, and their plasmid content, highlighting the complex dissemination of CRE in this endemic region.


carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae; carbapenemase; genetic diversity; plasmid; resistance mechanism

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