Diversification and Evolution of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecium during Intestinal Domination.
ABSTRACT: Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) is a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections. This is particularly true in immunocompromised patients, where the damage to the microbiota caused by antibiotics can lead to VRE domination of the intestine, increasing a patient's risk for bloodstream infection. In previous studies we observed that the intestinal domination by VRE of patients hospitalized to receive allogeneic bone marrow transplantation can persist for weeks, but little is known about subspecies diversification and evolution during prolonged domination. Here we combined a longitudinal analysis of patient data and in vivo experiments to reveal previously unappreciated subspecies dynamics during VRE domination that appeared to be stable from 16S rRNA microbiota analyses. Whole-genome sequencing of isolates obtained from sequential stool samples provided by VRE-dominated patients revealed an unanticipated level of VRE population complexity that evolved over time. In experiments with ampicillin-treated mice colonized with a single CFU, VRE rapidly diversified and expanded into distinct lineages that competed for dominance. Mathematical modeling shows that in vivo evolution follows mostly a parabolic fitness landscape, where each new mutation provides diminishing returns and, in the setting of continuous ampicillin treatment, reveals a fitness advantage for mutations in penicillin-binding protein 5 (pbp5) that increase resistance to ampicillin. Our results reveal the rapid diversification of host-colonizing VRE populations, with implications for epidemiologic tracking of in-hospital VRE transmission and susceptibility to antibiotic treatment.
Project description:Bloodstream infection by highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), is a growing clinical problem that increasingly defies medical intervention. Identifying patients at high risk for bacterial sepsis remains an important clinical challenge. Recent studies have shown that antibiotics can alter microbial diversity in the intestine. Here, we characterized these effects using 16s rDNA pyrosequencing and demonstrated that antibiotic treatment of mice enabled exogenously administered VRE to efficiently and nearly completely displace the normal microbiota of the small and large intestine. In the clinical setting, we found that intestinal domination by VRE preceded bloodstream infection in patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Our results demonstrate that antibiotics perturb the normal commensal microbiota and set the stage for intestinal domination by bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections. Thus, high-throughput DNA sequencing of the intestinal microbiota could identify patients at high risk of developing bacterial sepsis.
Project description:Antibiotic treatment of patients undergoing complex medical treatments can deplete commensal bacterial strains from the intestinal microbiota, thereby reducing colonization resistance against a wide range of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Loss of colonization resistance can lead to marked expansion of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Escherichia coli in the intestinal lumen, predisposing patients to bloodstream invasion and sepsis. The impact of intestinal domination by these antibiotic-resistant pathogens on mucosal immune defenses and epithelial and mucin-mediated barrier integrity is unclear. We used a mouse model to study the impact of intestinal domination by antibiotic-resistant bacterial species and strains on the colonic mucosa. Intestinal colonization with K. pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, or Enterobacter cloacae promoted greater recruitment of neutrophils to the colonic mucosa. To test the hypothesis that the residual microbiota influences the severity of colitis caused by infection with Clostridioides difficile, we coinfected mice that were colonized with ampicillin-resistant bacteria with a virulent strain of C. difficile and monitored colonization and pathogenesis. Despite the compositional differences in the gut microbiota, the severity of C. difficile infection (CDI) and mortality did not differ significantly between mice colonized with different ampicillin-resistant bacterial species. Our results suggest that the virulence mechanisms enabling CDI and epithelial destruction outweigh the relatively minor impact of less-virulent antibiotic-resistant intestinal bacteria on the outcome of CDI.
Project description:Bacteremia is a frequent complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). It is unclear whether changes in the intestinal microbiota during allo-HSCT contribute to the development of bacteremia. We examined the microbiota of patients undergoing allo-HSCT, and correlated microbial shifts with the risk of bacteremia.Fecal specimens were collected longitudinally from 94 patients undergoing allo-HSCT, from before transplant until 35 days after transplant. The intestinal microbiota was characterized by 454 pyrosequencing of the V1-V3 region of bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA genes. Microbial diversity was estimated by grouping sequences into operational taxonomic units and calculating the Shannon diversity index. Phylogenetic classification was obtained using the Ribosomal Database Project classifier. Associations of the microbiota with clinical predictors and outcomes were evaluated.During allo-HSCT, patients developed reduced diversity, with marked shifts in bacterial populations inhabiting the gut. Intestinal domination, defined as occupation of at least 30% of the microbiota by a single predominating bacterial taxon, occurred frequently. Commonly encountered dominating organisms included Enterococcus, Streptococcus, and various Proteobacteria. Enterococcal domination was increased 3-fold by metronidazole administration, whereas domination by Proteobacteria was reduced 10-fold by fluoroquinolone administration. As a predictor of outcomes, enterococcal domination increased the risk of Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus bacteremia 9-fold, and proteobacterial domination increased the risk of gram-negative rod bacteremia 5-fold.During allo-HSCT, the diversity and stability of the intestinal flora are disrupted, resulting in domination by bacteria associated with subsequent bacteremia. Assessment of fecal microbiota identifies patients at highest risk for bloodstream infection during allo-HCST.
Project description:Ampicillin resistance has greatly contributed to the recent dramatic increase of a cluster of human adapted Enterococcus faecium lineages (ST17, ST18, and ST78) in hospital-based infections. Changes in the chromosomal pbp5 gene have been associated with different levels of ampicillin susceptibility, leading to protein variants (designated as PBP5 C-types to keep the nomenclature used in previous works) with diverse degrees of reduction in penicillin affinity. Our goal was to use a comparative genomics approach to evaluate the relationship between the diversity of PBP5 among E. faecium isolates of different phylogenomic groups as well as to assess the pbp5 transferability among isolates of disparate clonal lineages. The analyses of 78 selected E. faecium strains as well as published E. faecium genomes, suggested that the diversity of pbp5 mirrors the phylogenomic diversification of E. faecium. The presence of identical PBP5 C-types as well as similar pbp5 genetic environments in different E. faecium lineages and clones from quite different geographical and environmental origin was also documented and would indicate their horizontal gene transfer among E. faecium populations. This was supported by experimental assays showing transfer of large (?180-280 kb) chromosomal genetic platforms containing pbp5 alleles, ponA (transglycosilase) and other metabolic and adaptive features, from E. faecium donor isolates to suitable E. faecium recipient strains. Mutation profile analysis of PBP5 from available genomes and strains from this study suggests that the spread of PBP5 C-types might have occurred even in the absence of a significant ampicillin resistance phenotype. In summary, genetic platforms containing pbp5 sequences were stably maintained in particular E. faecium lineages, but were also able to be transferred among E. faecium clones of different origins, emphasizing the growing risk of further spread of ampicillin resistance in this nosocomial pathogen.
Project description:Bacteria causing infections in hospitalized patients are increasingly antibiotic resistant. Classical infection control practices are only partially effective at preventing spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria within hospitals. Because the density of intestinal colonization by the highly antibiotic-resistant bacterium vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) can exceed 10(9) organisms per gram of feces, even optimally implemented hygiene protocols often fail. Decreasing the density of intestinal colonization, therefore, represents an important approach to limit VRE transmission. We demonstrate that reintroduction of a diverse intestinal microbiota to densely VRE-colonized mice eliminates VRE from the intestinal tract. While oxygen-tolerant members of the microbiota are ineffective at eliminating VRE, administration of obligate anaerobic commensal bacteria to mice results in a billionfold reduction in the density of intestinal VRE colonization. 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis of intestinal bacterial populations isolated from mice that cleared VRE following microbiota reconstitution revealed that recolonization with a microbiota that contains Barnesiella correlates with VRE elimination. Characterization of the fecal microbiota of patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation demonstrated that intestinal colonization with Barnesiella confers resistance to intestinal domination and bloodstream infection with VRE. Our studies indicate that obligate anaerobic bacteria belonging to the Barnesiella genus enable clearance of intestinal VRE colonization and may provide novel approaches to prevent the spread of highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Project description:Antibiotic-mediated microbiota destruction and the consequent loss of colonization resistance can result in intestinal domination with vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), leading to bloodstream infection in hospitalized patients. Clearance of VRE remains a challenging goal that, if achieved, would reduce systemic VRE infections and patient-to-patient transmission. Although obligate anaerobic commensal bacteria have been associated with colonization resistance to VRE, the specific bacterial species involved remain undefined. Herein, we demonstrate that a precisely defined consortium of commensal bacteria containing the Clostridium cluster XIVa species Blautia producta and Clostridium bolteae restores colonization resistance against VRE and clears VRE from the intestines of mice. While C. bolteae did not directly mediate VRE clearance, it enabled intestinal colonization with B. producta, which directly inhibited VRE growth. These findings suggest that therapeutic or prophylactic administration of defined bacterial consortia to individuals with compromised microbiota composition may reduce inter-patient transmission and intra-patient dissemination of highly antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Project description:Ampicillin resistance in Enterococcus faecium is a serious concern worldwide, complicating the treatment of E. faecium infections. Penicillin-binding protein 5 (PBP5) is considered the main ampicillin resistance determinant in E. faecium The three known E. faecium clades showed sequence variations in the pbp5 gene that are associated with their ampicillin resistance phenotype; however, these changes alone do not explain the array of resistance levels observed among E. faecium clinical strains. We aimed to determine if the levels of PBP5 are differentially regulated between the E. faecium clades, with the hypothesis that variations in PBP5 levels could help account for the spectrum of ampicillin MICs seen in E. faecium We studied pbp5 mRNA levels and PBP5 protein levels as well as the genetic environment upstream of pbp5 in 16 E. faecium strains that belong to the different E. faecium clades and for which the ampicillin MICs covered a wide range. Our results found that pbp5 and PBP5 levels are increased in subclade A1 and A2 ampicillin-resistant strains compared to those in clade B and subclade A2 ampicillin-susceptible strains. Furthermore, we found evidence of major clade-associated rearrangements in the region upstream of pbp5, including large DNA fragment insertions, deletions, and single nucleotide polymorphisms, that may be associated with the differential regulation of PBP5 levels between the E. faecium clades. Overall, these findings highlight the contribution of the clade background to the regulation of PBP5 abundance and point to differences in the region upstream of pbp5 as likely contributors to the differential expression of ampicillin resistance.
Project description:Among long-stay critically ill patients in the adult intensive care unit (ICU), there are often marked changes in the complexity of the gut microbiota. However, it remains unclear whether such patients might benefit from enhanced surveillance or from interventions targeting the gut microbiota or the pathogens therein. We therefore undertook a prospective observational study of 24 ICU patients, in which serial faecal samples were subjected to shotgun metagenomic sequencing, phylogenetic profiling and microbial genome analyses. Two-thirds of the patients experienced a marked drop in gut microbial diversity (to an inverse Simpson's index of <4) at some stage during their stay in the ICU, often accompanied by the absence or loss of potentially beneficial bacteria. Intravenous administration of the broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent meropenem was significantly associated with loss of gut microbial diversity, but the administration of other antibiotics, including piperacillin/tazobactam, failed to trigger statistically detectable changes in microbial diversity. In three-quarters of ICU patients, we documented episodes of gut domination by pathogenic strains, with evidence of cryptic nosocomial transmission of Enterococcus faecium. In some patients, we also saw an increase in the relative abundance of apparent commensal organisms in the gut microbiome, including the archaeal species Methanobrevibacter smithii. In conclusion, we have documented a dramatic absence of microbial diversity and pathogen domination of the gut microbiota in a high proportion of critically ill patients using shotgun metagenomics.
Project description:During a study to investigate the evolution of ampicillin resistance in Enterococcus faecium, we observed that a number of E. faecium strains, mainly from the recently described subclade A2, showed PBP5 sequences in between PBP5-S and PBP5-R. These hybrid PBP5-S/R patterns reveal a progression of amino acid changes from the S form to the R form of this protein; however, these changes do not strictly correlate with changes in ampicillin MICs.
Project description:We report a structural and transcriptional analysis of the pbp5 region of Enterococcus faecium C68. pbp5 exists within a larger operon that includes upstream open reading frames (ORFs) corresponding to previously reported psr (penicillin-binding protein synthesis repressor) and ftsW (whose product is a transmembrane protein that interacts with PBP3 in Escherichia coli septum formation) genes. Hybridization of mRNA from C68, CV133, and four ampicillin-resistant CV133 mutants revealed four distinct transcripts from this region, consisting of (i) E. faecium ftsW (ftsW(Efm)) alone; (ii) psr and pbp5; (iii) pbp5 alone; and (iv) ftsW(Efm), psr, and pbp5. Quantities of the different transcripts varied between strains and did not always correlate with quantities of PBP5 or levels of ampicillin resistance. Since the psr of C68 is presumably nonfunctional due to an insertion of an extra nucleotide in the codon for the 44th amino acid, the region extending from the ftsW(Efm) promoter through the pbp5 gene of C68 was cloned in E. coli to facilitate mutagenesis. The psr ORF was regenerated using site-directed mutagenesis and introduced into E. faecium D344-SRF on conjugative shuttle vector pTCV-lac (pCWR558 [psr ORF interrupted]; pCWR583 [psr ORF intact]). Ampicillin MICs for both D344-SRF(pCWR558) and D344-SRF(pCWR583) were 64 microg/ml. Quantities of pbp5 transcript and protein were similar in strains containing either construct regardless of whether they were grown in the presence or absence of ampicillin, arguing against a role for PSR as a repressor of pbp5 transcription. However, quantities of psr transcript were increased in D344-SRF(pCWR583) compared to D344-SRF(pCWR558), especially after growth in ampicillin; suggesting that PSR acts in some manner to activate its own transcription.