The vanRCd Mutation 343A>G, Resulting in a Thr115Ala Substitution, Is Associated with an Elevated Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) of Vancomycin in Clostridioides difficile Clinical Isolates from Florida

Microbiol Spectr. 2023 Jun 15;11(3):e0377722. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.03777-22. Epub 2023 May 1.


Clostridioides difficile, the primary cause of nosocomial antibiotic-associated diarrhea, has a complex relationship with antibiotics. While the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics disrupts the gut microbiota and increases the risk of C. difficile infection (CDI), antibiotics are also the primary treatment for CDI. However, only a few antibiotics, including vancomycin, fidaxomicin, and rifaximin, are effective against CDI, and resistance to these antibiotics has emerged recently. In this study, we report the identification of two RT027 C. difficile clinical isolates (TGH35 and TGH64) obtained from symptomatic CDI-diagnosed patients in Tampa, Florida in 2016. These two strains showed an elevated minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of vancomycin (MIC = 4 μg/mL, compared to the EUCAST breakpoint of 2 μg/mL) and contained a vanRCd 343A>G mutation resulting in a Thr115Ala substitution in the VanRCd response regulator. This mutation was absent in the vancomycin-sensitive control epidemic strain RT027/R20291. TGH64 was also resistant to rifaximin (MIC ≥ 128 μg/mL) and carried the previously reported Arg505Lys and Ile548Met mutations in RpoB. Furthermore, we report on the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and genomic characterization of additional C. difficile isolates, including RT106/TGH120, RT017/TGH33, and RT017/TGH51, obtained from the same patient sample cohort representing the highly prevalent and regionally distributed C. difficile ribotypes worldwide. Considering that the VanRCd Thr115Ala mutation was also independently reported in seven C. difficile clinical isolates from Texas and Israel in 2019, we recommend epidemiological surveillance to better understand the impact of this mutation on vancomycin resistance. IMPORTANCE The perpetually evolving antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of C. difficile is an important contributor to its epidemiology and is a grave concern to global public health. This exacerbates the challenge of treating the infections caused by this multidrug-resistant causative organism of potentially life-threatening diarrhea. Further, the novel resistance-determining factors can be transferred between different strains and species of bacteria and cause the spread of AMR in clinical, environmental, and community settings. In this study, we have identified a mutation (vanRCd 343A>G) that causes a Thr115Ala substitution and is linked to an increased MIC of vancomycin in clinical isolates of C. difficile obtained from Florida in 2016. Understanding the mechanisms of AMR, especially those of newly evolving strains, is essential to effectively guide antibiotic stewardship policies to combat antibiotic resistance as well as to discover novel therapeutic targets.

Keywords: Clostridioides difficile; antibiotic resistance; novel resistance-determining mechanisms; reduced susceptibility to vancomycin; single base pair mutation; van operon; vanGCd operon; vanRCd; vancomycin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cadmium / pharmacology
  • Cadmium / therapeutic use
  • Clostridioides
  • Clostridioides difficile*
  • Clostridium Infections* / microbiology
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy
  • Florida
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Rifaximin / pharmacology
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use


  • Vancomycin
  • Cadmium
  • Rifaximin
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents