• Vol. 38 No. 12, 1070–1073
  • 15 December 2009

Plasmid-mediated Quinolone Resistance Determinants in Urinary Isolates of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae in a Large Singapore Hospital



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Introduction: At the time of the study, 3 plasmid-borne qnr determinants (qnrA, qnrB and qnrS) and 1 plasmid-borne aminoglycoside-modifying enzyme determinant that confers quinolone resistance (aac(6')-Ib-cr) had been described in the literature. Materials and Methods: We studied the prevalence of the 3 qnr determinants in a total of 117 nalidixic acid-resistant urinary isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae (61 isolates) and Escherichia coli (56 isolates) using multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Further, a subset of the original strains (comprising 14 E. coli and 38 K. pneumoniae) showing reduced susceptibility to the aminoglycosides underwent PCR for aac(6')-Ib, followed by restriction digestion with BtsCI to detect the variant aac(6’)-Ib-cr. Results: Twenty-eight of 61 (45.9%) Klebsiella isolates were found to possess at least 1 qnr determinant. Only 1/56 (1.8%) E. coli isolates were found to possess a qnr determinant. Two of the Klebsiella isolates possessed 2 qnr determinants each (qnrB and qnrS). The predominant determinant was qnrB (19 isolates). There were 11 isolates harbouring qnrS, and only 1 with qnrA. 1/14 (7.1%) E. coli and 35/38 K. pneumoniae (92.1%) were found to possess aac(6’)-Ib-cr. There was pairwise association between each of qnr, aac(6’)-Ib-cr and the presence of an extended-spectrum beta-lactamase. Conclusions: A high prevalence of plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance determinants [i.e., qnrS, qnrB and aac(6')-Ib-cr] was found in quinolone-resistant K. pneumoniae isolated in a large hospital in Singapore

Plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance is a recently recognised phenomenon. The initial report of this transferable mode of resistance was in 1998 in Birmingham, Alabama, where the first qnr (quinolone-resistance) determinant was described on a conjugative plasmid in a Klebsiella isolate.1 The qnr determinant codes for a 218 amino acid member of the pentapeptide repeat family of proteins, which are thought to protect against DNA gyrase inhibition. While qnr raised the minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of quinolones in all strains, it was not sufficient to yield frank quinolone resistance without an ancillary mechanism like an accompanying outer membrane porin (OMP) loss.2

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