ABSTRACT

Colistin is used as one of the last-resort drugs against lethal infections caused by carbapenem-resistant pathogens of the Enterobacteriaceae family. Enterobacteriaceae bacteria carrying the mcr-1 colistin resistance gene are emerging in livestock and poultry, posing a serious threat to human health. However, there have been few reports about the prevalence and transmission of mcr-1 along the regional chicken supply chain. In this study, the complete sequences of mcr-1–positive Escherichia coli ST2705 and ST206 isolates obtained by screening 129 chilled chicken samples and 251 chicken fecal samples were investigated. Both of these isolates showed resistance to colistin, and importantly, the complete sequence of the mcr-1–positive E. coli ST2705 in China was reported for the first time. The mcr-1 gene was located on the IncHI2 plasmids pTBMCR421 (254,365 bp) and pTBMCR401 (230,964 bp) in strains ECCNB20-2 and ECZP248, respectively. Comparative analysis of mcr-1–bearing IncHI2 plasmids showed a marked similarity, indicating that these plasmids are very common and have the ability to be efficient vehicles for mcr-1 dissemination among humans, animals, and food. Furthermore, an insertion (ISKpn26) in Tn6330 (ISApl1-mcr-1-pap2-ISApl1) was identified in the plasmid pTBMCR401 and then compared; this insertion might affect the adaptability and stability of Tn6330. Taken together, these findings suggest that the IncHI2 plasmid might be a main factor affecting the transmission of mcr-1 in the chicken supply chain and that the genetic context of the mcr-1–bearing IncHI2 plasmid is constantly evolving.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • This is the first report of the complete sequence of mcr-1–positive E. coli ST2705 in China.

  • IncHI2-plasmids harboring mcr-1 in E. coli in China showed marked similarities.

  • An insertion (ISKpn26) in Tn6330 was identified in plasmid pTBMCR401 and then compared.

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