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1.  Persistence of Transferable Extended-Spectrum-β-Lactamase Resistance in the Absence of Antibiotic Pressure 
The treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria is one of the great challenges faced by clinicians in the 21st century. Antibiotic resistance genes are often transferred between bacteria by mobile genetic vectors called plasmids. It is commonly believed that removal of antibiotic pressure will reduce the numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to the perception that carriage of resistance imposes a fitness cost on the bacterium. This study investigated the ability of the plasmid pCT, a globally distributed plasmid that carries an extended-spectrum-β-lactamase (ESBL) resistance gene (blaCTX-M-14), to persist and disseminate in the absence of antibiotic pressure. We investigated key attributes in plasmid success, including conjugation frequencies, bacterial-host growth rates, ability to cause infection, and impact on the fitness of host strains. We also determined the contribution of the blaCTX-M-14 gene itself to the biology of the plasmid and host bacterium. Carriage of pCT was found to impose no detectable fitness cost on various bacterial hosts. An absence of antibiotic pressure and inactivation of the antibiotic resistance gene also had no effect on plasmid persistence, conjugation frequency, or bacterial-host biology. In conclusion, plasmids such as pCT have evolved to impose little impact on host strains. Therefore, the persistence of antibiotic resistance genes and their vectors is to be expected in the absence of antibiotic selective pressure regardless of antibiotic stewardship. Other means to reduce plasmid stability are needed to prevent the persistence of these vectors and the antibiotic resistance genes they carry.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00848-12
PMCID: PMC3421869  PMID: 22710119
2.  Complete Sequence and Molecular Epidemiology of IncK Epidemic Plasmid Encoding blaCTX-M-14 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(4):645-652.
This plasmid is disseminated worldwide in Escherichia coli isolated from humans and animals.
Antimicrobial drug resistance is a global challenge for the 21st century with the emergence of resistant bacterial strains worldwide. Transferable resistance to β-lactam antimicrobial drugs, mediated by production of extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs), is of particular concern. In 2004, an ESBL-carrying IncK plasmid (pCT) was isolated from cattle in the United Kingdom. The sequence was a 93,629-bp plasmid encoding a single antimicrobial drug resistance gene, blaCTX-M-14. From this information, PCRs identifying novel features of pCT were designed and applied to isolates from several countries, showing that the plasmid has disseminated worldwide in bacteria from humans and animals. Complete DNA sequences can be used as a platform to develop rapid epidemiologic tools to identify and trace the spread of plasmids in clinically relevant pathogens, thus facilitating a better understanding of their distribution and ability to transfer between bacteria of humans and animals.
doi:10.3201/eid1704.101009
PMCID: PMC3377399  PMID: 21470454
Bacteria; Escherichia coli; antimicrobial drug resistance; extended-spectrum beta-lactamase; CTX-M; plasmid; epidemiology; research

Results 1-2 (2)