Tracking inter-institutional spread of NDM and identification of a novel NDM-positive plasmid, pSg1-NDM, using next-generation sequencing approaches

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Owing to gene transposition and plasmid conjugation, New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase (NDM) is typically identified among varied Enterobacteriaceae species and STs. We used WGS to characterize the chromosomal and plasmid molecular epidemiology of NDM transmission involving four institutions in Singapore.


Thirty-three Enterobacteriaceae isolates (collection years 2010–14) were sequenced using short-read sequencing-by-synthesis and analysed. Long-read single molecule, real-time sequencing (SMRTS) was used to characterize genetically a novel plasmid pSg1-NDM carried on Klebsiella pneumoniae ST147.


In 20 (61%) isolates, blaNDM was located on the pNDM-ECS01 plasmid in the background of multiple bacterial STs, including eight K. pneumoniae STs and five Escherichia coli STs. In six (18%) isolates, a novel blaNDM-positive plasmid, pSg1-NDM, was found only in K. pneumoniae ST147. The pSg1-NDM–K. pneumoniae ST147 clone (Sg1-NDM) was fully sequenced using SMRTS. pSg1-NDM, a 90 103 bp IncR plasmid, carried genes responsible for resistance to six classes of antimicrobials. A large portion of pSg1-NDM had no significant homology to any known plasmids in GenBank. pSg1-NDM had no conjugative transfer region. Combined chromosomal–plasmid phylogenetic analysis revealed five clusters of clonal bacterial NDM-positive plasmid transmission, of which two were inter-institution clusters. The largest inter-institution cluster involved six K. pneumoniae ST147-pSg1-NDM isolates. Fifteen patients were involved in transmission clusters, of which four had ward contact, six had hospital contact and five had an unknown transmission link.


A combined sequencing-by-synthesis and SMRTS approach can determine effectively the transmission clusters of blaNDM and genetically characterize novel plasmids. Plasmid molecular epidemiology is important to understanding NDM spread as blaNDM-positive plasmids can conjugate extensively across species and STs.

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