Genomic analysis of 600 vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium reveals a high prevalence of ST80 and spread of similar vanA regions via IS1216E and plasmid transfer in diverse genetic lineages in Ireland

Sarah A Egan, Nicole L Kavanagh, Anna C Shore, Sarah Mollerup, José A Samaniego Castruita, Brian O'Connell, Brenda A McManus, Grainne I Brennan, Mette Pinholt, Henrik Westh, David C Coleman

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) cause a wide range of hospital infections. Ireland has had one of the highest invasive VREfm infection rates in Europe over the last decade, yet little is known about Irish VREfm.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the population structure of Irish VREfm, explore diversity by analysing the vanA transposon region and compare Irish, Danish and global isolates.

METHODS: E. faecium (n = 648) from five Irish hospitals were investigated, including VREfm [547 rectal screening and 53 bloodstream infection (BSI)] isolates and 48 vancomycin-susceptible (VSEfm) BSI isolates recovered between June 2017 and December 2019. WGS and core-genome MLST (cgMLST) were used to assess population structure. Genetic environments surrounding vanA were resolved by hybrid assembly of short-read (Illumina) and long-read (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) sequences.

RESULTS: All isolates belonged to hospital-adapted clade A1 and the majority (435/648) belonged to MLST ST80. The population structure was highly polyclonal; cgMLST segregated 603/648 isolates into 51 clusters containing mixtures of screening and BSI isolates, isolates from different hospitals, and VREfm and VSEfm. Isolates within clusters were closely related (mean average ≤16 allelic differences). The majority (96.5%) of VREfm harboured highly similar vanA regions located on circular or linear plasmids with multiple IS1216E insertions, variable organization of vanA operon genes and 78.6% harboured a truncated tnpA transposase. Comparison of 648 Irish isolates with 846 global E. faecium from 30 countries using cgMLST revealed little overlap.

CONCLUSIONS: Irish VREfm are polyclonal, yet harbour a characteristic plasmid-located vanA region with multiple IS1216E insertions that may facilitate spread.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdkab393
JournalThe Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy
Volume77
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)320-330
Number of pages11
ISSN0305-7453
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2022

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