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Background: Klebsiella spp. are opportunistic pathogens which can cause severe infections, are often multi-drug resistant and are a common cause of hospital-acquired infections. Multiple new Klebsiella species have recently been described, yet their clinical impact and antibiotic resistance profiles are largely unknown. We aimed to explore Klebsiella group- and species-specific clinical impact, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and virulence. Methods: We analysed whole-genome sequence data of a diverse selection of Klebsiella spp. isolates and identified resistance and virulence factors. Using the genomes of 3594 Klebsiella isolates, we predicted the masses of 56 ribosomal subunit proteins and identified species-specific marker masses. We then re-analysed over 22,000 Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization - Time Of Flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectra routinely acquired at eight healthcare institutions in four countries looking for these species-specific markers. Analyses of clinical and microbiological endpoints from a subset of 957 patients with infections from Klebsiella species were performed using generalized linear mixed-effects models. Results: Our comparative genomic analysis shows group- and species-specific trends in accessory genome composition. With the identified species-specific marker masses, eight Klebsiella species can be distinguished using MALDI-TOF MS. We identified K. pneumoniae (71.2%; n = 12,523), K. quasipneumoniae (3.3%; n = 575), K. variicola (9.8%; n = 1717), “K. quasivariicola” (0.3%; n = 52), K. oxytoca (8.2%; n = 1445), K. michiganensis (4.8%; n = 836), K. grimontii (2.4%; n = 425) and K. huaxensis (0.1%; n = 12). Isolates belonging to the K. oxytoca group, which includes the species K. oxytoca, K. michiganensis and K. grimontii, were less often resistant to 4th-generation cephalosporins than isolates of the K. pneumoniae group, which includes the species K. pneumoniae, K. quasipneumoniae, K. variicola and “K. quasivariicola” (odds ratio = 0.17, p < 0.001, 95% confidence interval [0.09,0.28]). Within the K. pneumoniae group, isolates identified as K. pneumoniae were more often resistant to 4th-generation cephalosporins than K. variicola isolates (odds ratio = 2.61, p = 0.003, 95% confidence interval [1.38,5.06]). K. oxytoca group isolates were found to be more likely associated with invasive infection to primary sterile sites than K. pneumoniae group isolates (odds ratio = 2.39, p = 0.0044, 95% confidence interval [1.05,5.53]). Conclusions: Currently misdiagnosed Klebsiella spp. can be distinguished using a ribosomal marker-based approach for MALDI-TOF MS. Klebsiella groups and species differed in AMR profiles, and in their association with invasive infection, highlighting the importance for species identification to enable effective treatment options.
Cuénod, A., Wüthrich, D., Seth-Smith, H. M. B., Ott, C., Gehringer, C., Foucault, F., … Egli, A. (2021). Whole-genome sequence-informed MALDI-TOF MS diagnostics reveal importance of Klebsiella oxytoca group in invasive infections: a retrospective clinical study. Genome Medicine, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13073-021-00960-5