Class 1 integrons contain genetic elements for site-specific recombination, capture and mobilization of resistance genes. Studies investigating the prevalence, distribution and types of integron located resistance genes are important for surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and to understand resistance development at the molecular level.
We determined the prevalence and genetic content of class 1 integrons in Enterobacteriaceae (strain collection 1, n = 192) and E. coli (strain collection 2, n = 53) from bloodstream infections in patients from six Norwegian hospitals by molecular techniques. Class 1 integrons were also characterized in 54 randomly selected multiresistant E. coli isolates from gastrointestinal human infections (strain collection 3).
Class 1 integrons were present in 10.9% of the Enterobacteriaceae blood culture isolates of collection 1, all but one (S. Typhi) being E. coli. Data indicated variations in class 1 integron prevalence between hospitals. Class 1 integrons were present in 37% and 34% of the resistant blood culture isolates (collection 1 and 2, respectively) and in 42% of the resistant gastrointestinal E. coli. We detected a total of 10 distinct integron cassette PCR amplicons that varied in size between 0.15 kb and 2.2 kb and contained between zero and three resistance genes. Cassettes encoding resistance to trimethoprim and aminoglycosides were most common. We identified and characterized a novel plasmid-located integron with a cassette-bound novel gene (linF) located downstream of an aadA2 gene cassette. The linF gene encoded a putative 273 aa lincosamide nucleotidyltransferase resistance protein and conferred resistance to lincomycin and clindamycin. The deduced LinF amino acid sequence displayed approximately 35% identity to the Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis nucleotidyl transferases encoded by linB and linB'
The present study demonstrated an overall low and stable prevalence of class 1 integron gene cassettes in clinical Enterobacteriaceae and E. coli isolates in Norway. Characterization of the novel lincosamide resistance gene extends the growing list of class 1 integron gene cassettes that confer resistance to an increasing number of antibiotics.