Analysis and comparative genomics of ICEMh1, a novel integrative and conjugative element (ICE) of Mannheimia haemolytica

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The aim of this study was to identify and analyse the first integrative and conjugative element (ICE) from Mannheimia haemolytica, the major bacterial component of the bovine respiratory disease (BRD) complex.


The novel ICEMh1 was discovered in the whole-genome sequence of M. haemolytica 42548 by sequence analysis and comparative genomics. Transfer of ICEMh1 was confirmed by conjugation into Pasteurella multocida recipient cells.


ICEMh1 has a size of 92 345 bp and harbours 107 genes. It integrates into a chromosomal tRNALeu copy. Within two resistance gene regions of ∼7.4 and 3.3 kb, ICEMh1 harbours five genes, which confer resistance to streptomycin (strA and strB), kanamycin/neomycin (aphA1), tetracycline [tetR-tet(H)] and sulphonamides (sul2). ICEMh1 is related to the recently described ICEPmu1 and both ICEs seem to have evolved from a common ancestor. A region of ICEMh1 that is absent in ICEPmu1 was found in putative ICE regions of other M. haemolytica genomes, suggesting a recombination event between two ICEs. ICEMh1 transfers to P. multocida by conjugation, in which it also uses a tRNALeu as the integration site. PCR assays and susceptibility testing confirmed the presence and activity of the ICEMh1-associated resistance genes in the P. multocida recipient.


These findings showed that ICEs, with structurally variable resistance gene regions, are present in BRD-associated Pasteurellaceae, can easily spread across genus borders and enable the acquisition of multidrug resistance via a single horizontal gene transfer event. This poses a threat to efficient antimicrobial chemotherapy of BRD-associated bacterial pathogens.

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