Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE) are highly concerning MDR pathogens. Horizontal transfer of broad-host-range IncN plasmids may contribute to the dissemination of the Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC), spreading carbapenem resistance among unrelated bacteria. However, the population structure and genetic diversity of IncN plasmids has not been fully elucidated.
We reconstructed blaKPC-harbouring IncN plasmid genomes to characterize shared gene content, structural variability, and putative horizontal transfer within and across patients and diverse bacterial clones.
We performed short- and long-read sequencing and hybrid assembly on 45 CRE isolates with blaKPC-harbouring IncN plasmids. Eight serial isolates from two patients were included to assess intra-patient plasmid dynamics. Comparative genomic analysis was performed to assess structural and sequence similarity across plasmids. Within IncN sublineages defined by plasmid MLST and kmer-based clustering, phylogenetic analysis was used to identify closely related plasmids.
Comparative analysis of IncN plasmid genomes revealed substantial heterogeneity including large rearrangements in serial patient plasmids and differences in structure and content across plasmid clusters. Within plasmid sublineages, core genome content and resistance gene regions were largely conserved. Closely related plasmids (≤1 SNP) were found in highly diverse isolates, including ten pST6 plasmids found in eight bacterial clones from three different species.
Genomic analysis of blaKPC-harbouringmore »