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Interbacterial Transfer of Carbapenem Resistance and Large Antibiotic Resistance Islands by Natural Transformation in Pathogenic Acinetobacter

Abstract : Acinetobacter baumannii infection poses a major health threat, with recurrent treatment failure due to antibiotic resistance, notably to carbapenems. While genomic analyses of clinical strains indicate that homologous recombination plays a major role in the acquisition of antibiotic resistance genes, the underlying mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer often remain speculative. Our understanding of the acquisition of antibiotic resistance is hampered by the lack of experimental systems able to reproduce genomic observations. We here report the detection of recombination events occurring spontaneously in mixed bacterial populations and which can result in the acquisition of resistance to carbapenems. We show that natural transformation is the main driver of intrastrain but also interstrain recombination events between A. baumannii clinical isolates and pathogenic species of Acinetobacter. We observed that interbacterial natural transformation in mixed populations is more efficient at promoting the acquisition of large resistance islands (AbaR4 and AbaR1) than when the same bacteria are supplied with large amounts of purified genomic DNA. Importantly, analysis of the genomes of the recombinant progeny revealed large recombination tracts (from 13 to 123 kb) similar to those observed in the genomes of clinical isolates. Moreover, we highlight that transforming DNA availability is a key determinant of the rate of recombinants and results from both spontaneous release and interbacterial predatory behavior. In the light of our results, natural transformation should be considered a leading mechanism of genome recombination and horizontal gene transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in Acinetobacter baumannii.
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Soumis le : lundi 11 juillet 2022 - 13:55:26
Dernière modification le : samedi 24 septembre 2022 - 15:10:05


Godeux et al. - 2022 - Interba...
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  • HAL Id : hal-03719631, version 1


Anne-Sophie Godeux, Elin Svedholm, Samuel Barreto, Anaïs Potron, Samuel Venner, et al.. Interbacterial Transfer of Carbapenem Resistance and Large Antibiotic Resistance Islands by Natural Transformation in Pathogenic Acinetobacter. mBio, American Society for Microbiology, 2022, 13 (1), pp.e02631-21. ⟨hal-03719631⟩



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