Background: CTX-M-producing Escherichia coli strains are regarded as major global pathogens.
Methodology/principal findings: The nucleotide sequence of three plasmids (pEC_B24: 73801-bp; pEC_L8: 118525-bp and pEC_L46: 144871-bp) from Escherichia coli isolates obtained from patients with urinary tract infections and one plasmid (pEC_Bactec: 92970-bp) from an Escherichia coli strain isolated from the joint of a horse with arthritis were determined. Plasmid pEC_Bactec belongs to the IncI1 group and carries two resistance genes: bla(TEM-1) and bla(CTX-M-15). It shares more than 90% homology with a previously published bla(CTX-M)-plasmid from E. coli of human origin. Plasmid pEC_B24 belongs to the IncFII group whereas plasmids pEC_L8 and pEC_L46 represent a fusion of two replicons of type FII and FIA. On the pEC_B24 backbone, two resistance genes, bla(TEM-1) and bla(CTX-M-15), were found. Six resistance genes, bla(TEM-1), bla(CTX-M-15), bla(OXA-1), aac6'-lb-cr, tetA and catB4, were detected on the pEC_L8 backbone. The same antimicrobial drug resistance genes, with the exception of tetA, were also identified on the pEC_L46 backbone. Genome analysis of all 4 plasmids studied provides evidence of a seemingly frequent transposition event of the bla(CTX-M-15)-ISEcp1 element. This element seems to have a preferred insertion site at the tnpA gene of a bla(TEM)-carrying Tn3-like transposon, the latter itself being inserted by a transposition event. The IS26-composite transposon, which contains the bla(OXA-1), aac6'-lb-cr and catB4 genes, was inserted into plasmids pEC_L8 and pEC_L46 by homologous recombination rather than a transposition event. Results obtained for pEC_L46 indicated that IS26 also plays an important role in structural rearrangements of the plasmid backbone and seems to facilitate the mobilisation of fragments from other plasmids.
Conclusions: Collectively, these data suggests that IS26 together with ISEcp1 could play a critical role in the evolution of diverse multiresistant plasmids found in clinical Enterobacteriaceae.