Virulence of Klebsiella pneumoniae Isolates Harboring blaKPC-2 Carbapenemase Gene in a Caenorhabditis elegans Model

Lavigne, Jean-Philippe; Cuzon, Gaelle; Combescure, Christophe; Bourg, Gisèle; Sotto, Albert; Nordmann, Patrice
July 2013
PLoS ONE;Jul2013, Vol. 8 Issue 7, p1
Academic Journal
Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) is a carbapenemase increasingly reported worldwide in Enterobacteriaceae. The aim of this study was to analyze the virulence of several KPC-2-producing K. pneumoniae isolates. The studied strains were (i) five KPC-2 clinical strains from different geographical origins, belonging to different ST-types and possessing plasmids of different incompatibility groups; (ii) seven transformants obtained after electroporation of either these natural KPC plasmids or a recombinant plasmid harboring only the blaKPC-2 gene into reference strains K. pneumoniae ATCC10031/CIP53153; and (iii) five clinical strains cured of plasmids. The virulence of K. pneumoniae isolates was evaluated in the Caenorhabditis elegans model. The clinical KPC producers and transformants were significantly less virulent (LT50: 5.5 days) than K. pneumoniae reference strain (LT50: 4.3 days) (p<0.01). However, the worldwide spread KPC-2 positive K. pneumoniae ST258 strains and reference strains containing plasmids extracted from K. pneumoniae ST258 strains had a higher virulence than KPC-2 strains belonging to other ST types (LT50: 5 days vs. 6 days, p<0.01). The increased virulence observed in cured strains confirmed this trend. The blaKPC-2 gene itself was not associated to increased virulence.


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