PCR-based plasmid typing in Enterococcus faecium strains reveals widely distributed pRE25-, pRUM-, pIP501- and pHTbeta-related replicons associated with glycopeptide resistance and stabilizing toxin-antitoxin systems.
The objective of this study was to investigate the antimicrobial resistance, Tn1546 transposon variability and plasmid diversity among Polish vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) isolates of VanA phenotype in the context of their clonal structure. Two hundred sixteen clinical VREfm isolates collected between 1997 and 2010 were studied by antimicrobial susceptibility testing, MLST, MLVA and detection of IS16, esp Efm, pilA, intA and plasmid-specific genes by PCR. Tn1546 structure was revealed by overlapping PCR and sequencing. Selected isolates were subjected to PFGE-S1 and Southern hybridization analyses. The vast majority of the isolates (95.8 %) belonged to lineages 17/18 (during the whole study period 1997–2010) and 78 (mostly in 2006–2010) of hospital-adapted meroclone of E. faecium. All isolates displayed a multi-drug resistance phenotype. Twenty-eight Tn1546 types (including 26 novel ones) were associated with eight different ISs (IS1216, IS1251, ISEfa4, ISEfa5, ISEfm2, ISEf1, IS3-like, ISEfm1-like). The vanA-determinant was typically located on plasmids, which most commonly carried rep2pRE25, rep17pRUM, rep18pEF418, rep1pIP501, ω-ε-ζ and axe-txe genes. VanA isolates from 1997–2005 to 2006–2010 differed in clonal composition, prevalence of gentamicin- and tetracycline-resistance and plasmidome. Our analysis revealed high complexity of Tn1546-type transposons and vanA-plasmids, and suggested that diverse genetic events, such as conjugation transfer, recombination, chromosomal integration and DNA mutations shaped the structure of these elements among Polish VREfm.