Characterization of CRISPR-Cas systems in clinical Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates uncovers its potential association with antibiotic susceptibility

Hsin Yu Li, Cheng Yen Kao, Wei Hung Lin, Po Xing Zheng, Jing Jou Yan, Ming Cheng Wang, Ching Hao Teng, Chin Chung Tseng, Jiunn Jong Wu

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Prokaryotic CRISPR-Cas systems limit the acquisition of genetic elements and provide immunity against invasive bacteriophage. The characteristics of CRISPR-Cas systems in clinical Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates are still unknown. Here, 97 K. pneumoniae genomes retrieved from the Integrated Microbial Genomes & Microbiomes genome database and 176 clinical isolates obtained from patients with bloodstream (BSI, n = 87) or urinary tract infections (UTI, n = 89) in Taiwan, were used for analysis. Forty out of ninety-seven genomes (41.2%) had CRISPR-Cas systems identified by the combination of CRISPRFinder and cas1 gene sequence alignment. The phylogenetic trees revealed that CRISPR-Cas systems in K. pneumoniae were divided into two types (type I-E, 23; subtype I-E*, 17) based on the sequences of Cas1 and Cas3 proteins and their location in the chromosome. The distribution of type I-E and I-E* CRISPR-Cas systems was associated with the multilocus sequence typing and the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis results. Importantly, no CRISPR-Cas system was identified in published genomes of clonal complex 258 isolates (ST11 and ST258), which comprise the largest multi-drug resistant K. pneumoniae clonal group worldwide. PCR with cas-specific primers showed that 30.7% (54/176) of the clinical isolates had a CRISPR-Cas system. Among clinical isolates, more type I-E CRISPR-Cas systems were found in UTI isolates (BSI, 5.7%; UTI, 11.2%), and subtype I-E* CRISPR-Cas systems were dominant in BSI isolates (BSI, 28.7%; UTI, 15.7%) (p = 0.042). Isolates which had subtype I-E* CRISPR-Cas system were more susceptible to ampicillin-sulbactam (p = 0.009), cefazolin (p = 0.016), cefuroxime (p = 0.039), and gentamicin (p = 0.012), compared to the CRISPR-negative isolates. The strains containing subtype I-E* CRISPR-Cas systems had decreased numbers of plasmids, prophage regions, and acquired antibiotic resistance genes in their published genomes. Here, we first revealed subtype I-E* CRISPR-Cas system in K. pneumoniae potentially interfering with the acquisition of phages and plasmids harboring antibiotic resistance determinants, and thus maintained these isolates susceptible to antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1595
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberJUL
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 16

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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