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Co‐evolutionary adaptations of Acinetobacter baumannii and a clinical carbapenemase‐encoding plasmid during carbapenem exposure

Zhang, Linyue, Fu, Ying, Zhang, Linghong, Xu, Qingye, Yang, Yunxing, He, Jintao, Leptihn, Sebastian, Loh, Belinda, Moran, Robert A., van Schaik, Willem, Toleman, Mark Alexander ORCID:, Chen, Qiong, Liu, Lilin, Yu, Yunsong and Hua, Xiaoting 2022. Co‐evolutionary adaptations of Acinetobacter baumannii and a clinical carbapenemase‐encoding plasmid during carbapenem exposure. Evolutionary Applications 10.1111/eva.13441

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Abstract: OXA‐23 is the predominant carbapenemase in carbapenem‐resistant Acinetobacter baumannii. The co‐evolutionary dynamics of A. baumannii and OXA‐23‐encoding plasmids are poorly understood. Here, we transformed A. baumannii ATCC 17978 with pAZJ221, a blaOXA−23‐containing plasmid from clinical A. baumannii isolate A221, and subjected the transformant to experimental evolution in the presence of a sub‐inhibitory concentration of imipenem for nearly 400 generations. We used population sequencing to track genetic changes at six time points and evaluated phenotypic changes. Increased fitness of evolving populations, temporary duplication of blaOXA−23 in pAZJ221, interfering allele dynamics, and chromosomal locus‐level parallelism were observed. To characterize genotype‐to‐phenotype associations, we focused on six mutations in parallel targets predicted to affect small RNAs and a cyclic dimeric (3′ → 5′) GMP‐metabolizing protein. Six isogenic mutants with or without pAZJ221 were engineered to test for the effects of these mutations on fitness costs and plasmid kinetics, and the evolved plasmid containing two copies of blaOXA−23 was transferred to ancestral ATCC 17978. Five of the six mutations contributed to improved fitness in the presence of pAZJ221 under imipenem pressure, and all but one of them impaired plasmid conjugation ability. The duplication of blaOXA−23 increased host fitness under carbapenem pressure but imposed a burden on the host in antibiotic‐free media relative to the ancestral pAZJ221. Overall, our study provides a framework for the co‐evolution of A. baumannii and a clinical blaOXA−23‐containing plasmid in the presence of imipenem, involving early blaOXA−23 duplication followed by chromosomal adaptations that improved the fitness of plasmid‐carrying cells.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
ISSN: 1752-4563
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 July 2022
Date of Acceptance: 14 June 2022
Last Modified: 14 May 2023 10:16

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