Characterization of plasmids in extensively drug-resistant acinetobacter strains isolated in India and Pakistan

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2015 Feb;59(2):923-9. doi: 10.1128/AAC.03242-14. Epub 2014 Nov 24.


The blaNDM-1 gene is associated with extensive drug resistance in Gram-negative bacteria. This probably spread to Enterobacteriaceae from Acinetobacter spp., and we characterized plasmids associated with blaNDM-1 in Acinetobacter spp. to gain insight into their role in this dissemination. Four clinical NDM-1-producing Acinetobacter species strains from India and Pakistan were investigated. A plasmid harboring blaNDM-1, pNDM-40-1, was characterized by whole-genome sequencing of Acinetobacter bereziniae CHI-40-1 and comparison with related plasmids. The presence of similar plasmids in strains from Pakistan was sought by PCR and sequencing of amplicons. Conjugation frequency was tested and stability of pNDM-40-1 investigated by real-time PCR of isolates passaged with and without antimicrobial selection pressure. A. bereziniae and Acinetobacter haemolyticus strains contained plasmids similar to the pNDM-BJ01-like plasmids identified in Acinetobacter spp. in China. The backbone of pNDM-40-1 was almost identical to that of pNDM-BJ01-like plasmids, but the transposon harboring blaNDM-1, Tn125, contained two short deletions. Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter pittii transconjugants were readily obtained. Transconjugants retained pNDM-40-1 after a 14-day passage experiment, although stability was greater with meropenem selection. Fragments of pNDM-BJ01-like plasmid backbones are found near blaNDM-1 in some genetic contexts from Enterobacteriaceae, suggesting that cross-genus transfer has occurred. pNDM-BJ01-like plasmids have been described in isolates originating from a wide geographical region in southern Asia. In vitro data on plasmid transfer and stability suggest that these plasmids could have contributed to the spread of blaNDM-1 into Enterobacteriaceae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acinetobacter / drug effects
  • Acinetobacter / genetics*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics*
  • India
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Pakistan
  • Plasmids / genetics*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents