Large-Scale Genomic Epidemiology of Klebsiella pneumoniae Identified Clone Divergence with Hypervirulent Plus Antimicrobial-Resistant Characteristics Causing Within-Ward Strain Transmissions

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  • Na Pei
  • Yanming Li
  • Chunjiao Liu
  • Zijuan Jian
  • Tianzhu Liang
  • Yiming Zhong
  • Wanying Sun
  • Jingxuan He
  • Xinyi Cheng
  • Hongling Li
  • Xiaole Lei
  • Xin Liu
  • Ziqing Deng
  • Qingxia Liu
  • Xia Chen
  • Qun Yan
  • Kristiansen, Karsten
  • Junhua Li
  • Wenen Liu

Global dissemination of K. pneumoniae clones poses health hazards to the public. Genomic epidemiology studies with comprehensive data set further revealed clone divergence, showing a high complexity in evolution. Moreover, clones carrying both acquired virulent and antimicrobial-resistant genes emerged and might replace the carbapenem-resistant clones. Co-occurrence of virulence and resistance is emerging. An unbiased collection of 3,061 clinical K. pneumoniae isolates (January 5, 2013 to July 24, 2018) underwent whole-genome sequencing. Pairwise core-genome single-nucleotide polymorphism (cgSNP) distances identified clone divergence and transmission events. A sum of 2,193 nonduplicated genomes clustered into four phenotypically indistinguishable species complexes. 93% (n = 2,035) were KpI with its largest clonal group (CG) being CG11 (n = 406). Three hundred ninety-three were ST11 and three hundred seventy-four carried blaKPC-2. Noticeably, CG11 is divided into two main subclones based on the capsule synthesis K loci (KL). CG11-KL64 showed a clear hypervirulent plus antimicrobial-resistant (hv+AMR) characteristic. Besides, the phylogenetic structure revealed the clone divergence of CG25, and this is the first report with sufficient CG25 genomes to identify the divergence. The outcomes of the hv+AMR CG25 cluster 1 affected patients were poorer (P < 0.05). Moreover, two episodes of strain transmissions were associated with CG25 cluster 1. Other transmissions were associated with ST20 and ST307. Genomic epidemiology identified clone divergence of CG11 and CG25. The hv+AMR subclones pose greater threats on a global scale. Nosocomial transmissions of the high-risk clones raised our concerns about the evolution and transmission of emerging clones among newborns and critically ill patients. IMPORTANCE The convergence of AMR and acquired virulence posing higher risks to the public is a focusing point. With sufficient genomes and genotypes, we successfully identify the convergence in two subclones, the previously reported CG11-KL64, and the newly reported CG25 cluster 1. The novel finding of the CG25 divergence was not only revealed by the phylogenetic tree but also confirmed by the clinical outcome data and the accessory genome patterns. Moreover, the transmission subclones circulated in two clinically important wards highlights the deficiency of infection control program using conventional methods. Without the assistance of whole-genome sequencing, the transmissions of high-risk clones could not be identified.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02698-21
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number2
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology, Clone Cells, Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial/genetics, Genomics, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Klebsiella Infections/epidemiology, Klebsiella pneumoniae/genetics, Microbial Sensitivity Tests, Phylogeny, beta-Lactamases/genetics

ID: 304784463