Novel erm(T)-Carrying Multiresistance Plasmids from Porcine and Human Isolates of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus ST398 That Also Harbor Cadmium and Copper Resistance Determinants

This study describes three novel erm(T)-carrying multiresistance plasmids that also harbor cadmium and copper resistance determinants. The plasmids, designated pUR1902, pUR2940, and pUR2941, were obtained from porcine and human methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) of the clonal lineage ST398. In addition to the macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin B (MLSB) resistance gene erm(T), all three plasmids also carry the tetracycline resistance gene tet(L). Furthermore, plasmid pUR2940 harbors the trimethoprim resistance gene dfrK and the MLSB resistance gene erm(C), while plasmids pUR1902 and pUR2941 possess the kanamycin/neomycin resistance gene aadD. Sequence analysis of approximately 18.1 kb of the erm(T)-flanking region from pUR1902, 20.0 kb from pUR2940, and 20.8 kb from pUR2941 revealed the presence of several copies of the recently described insertion sequence ISSau10, which is probably involved in the evolution of the respective plasmids. All plasmids carried a functional cadmium resistance operon with the genes cadD and cadX, in addition to the multicopper oxidase gene mco and the ATPase copper transport gene copA, which are involved in copper resistance. The comparative analysis of S. aureus RN4220 and the three S. aureus RN4220 transformants carrying plasmid pUR1902, pUR2940, or pUR2941 revealed an 8-fold increase in CdSO4 and a 2-fold increase in CuSO4 MICs. The emergence of multidrug resistance plasmids that also carry heavy metal resistance genes is alarming and requires further surveillance. The colocalization of antimicrobial resistance genes and genes that confer resistance to heavy metals may facilitate their persistence, coselection, and dissemination.



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