Objectives: To characterize at the genomic level the evolution of multiresistance during an outbreak of Klebsiella pneumoniae in a burns intensive care unit. The outbreak involved a DHA-1 β-lactamase-producing strain that later acquired carbapenem and fosfomycin resistance, and in one case colistin resistance.
Methods: The genomes of two isolates were sequenced and compared with a previously sequenced genome. The role of hypermutability was investigated by measuring the mutation frequencies of the isolates and comparison with a collection of control strains.
Results: Sequence comparison identified four single-nucleotide variants and two transposon insertions. Analysis of the variants in the whole collection related carbapenem and fosfomycin resistance to a nonsense mutation in the ompK36 porin gene and colistin resistance to an IS1 insertion in the mgrB gene. The plasmid carrying the blaDHA-1 gene was unstable in the absence of antibiotics, and analysis of isolates that had lost the plasmid showed that the porin mutation alone was not sufficient to generate carbapenem resistance. The mutation frequencies were similar among all the strains analysed.
Conclusions: Carbapenem resistance required production of the DHA-1 β-lactamase and decreased permeability, but fosfomycin resistance depended only on permeability. Resistance to colistin might be related to an alteration in the regulation of the phoPQ system. Hypermutation is not related to the selection of porin mutants. Plasmid instability might be due to the high number of mobile elements and suggests a major role for antibiotic selection pressure in the emergence and evolution of this outbreak.
Keywords: Klebsiella pneumoniae genome; antibiotic resistance; hypermutation; outbreak genomics.