Identification of plasmid-encoded sRNAs in a blaNDM-1-harboring multidrug-resistance plasmid pNDM-HK in Enterobacteriaceae

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Abstract

Small RNAs (sRNAs) play significant roles in regulating gene expression post-transcriptionally in response to environmental changes in bacteria. In this work, we identified and characterized six novel sRNAs from an emerging multidrug-resistance (MDR) plasmid pNDM-HK, a New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase 1 gene (blaNDM-1)-carrying IncL/M plasmid that has caused worldwide threat in recent years. These sRNAs are located at different regions of pNDM-HK, such as replication, stability, and variable regions. Moreover, one of the plasmid-encoded sRNAs (NDM-sR3) functions in an Hfq-dependent manner and possibly plays roles in the fitness of pNDM-HK carrying bacteria. In addition, we attempted to construct the phylogenetic tree based on these novel sRNAs and surprisingly, the sRNA-phylogenetic tree provided significant information about the evolutionary pathway of pNDM-HK, including possible gene acquisition and insertion from relevant plasmids. Moreover, the sRNA-phylogenetic tree can specifically cluster the IncM2 type and distinguish it from other IncL/M subtypes. In summary, this is the first study to systematically identify and characterize sRNAs from clinically-isolated MDR plasmids. We believe that these newly found sRNAs could lead to further understanding and new directions to study the evolution and dissemination of the clinically MDR bacterial plasmids.

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Kong, H. K., Liu, X., Lo, W. U., Pan, Q., Law, C. O. K., Chan, T. F., … Lau, T. C. K. (2018). Identification of plasmid-encoded sRNAs in a blaNDM-1-harboring multidrug-resistance plasmid pNDM-HK in Enterobacteriaceae. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9(MAR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.00532

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