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A Novel Non-hypermucoviscous ST11 Hypervirulent Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae Lacking Classical Virulence Factors

By Min Zhang, Jinyong Zhang, Jia Li, Shuye Xu, Chunxia Hu, Qiuyang Deng, Xianglin Wu, Lihua Xiao, Zhou Liu, Xiyao Yang, Xiaoqian Hu, Wenhui Zhang, Nan Wang, Liqi Yang, Shiyi Liu, Ruiqin Cui, Zhen Hui, Yuxin Zhong, Yutian Luo, Huaisheng Chen, Weiyuan Wu, Jinsong Wu, Yuemei Lu, Xueyan Liu, Quanming Zou, Wei Huang

Posted 03 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.28.970863

Background: Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae lacking classical virulence factors is uncommon, and the virulence mechanisms of this organism are not understood. Methods: Following a retrospective study of carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae based on core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST), isolates that caused high mortality were investigated with a genome-wide association study (GWAS), proteome analysis and an animal model. Results: The sublineage of sequence type 11 (ST11) K. pneumoniae, which belongs to complex type 3176 (CT3176) and K-locus 47 (KL47), was highlighted due to the high mortality of infected patients. GWAS analysis showed that ampRwas associated with the CT3176 isolates. In a mouse model, the mortality of ampR-carrying isolates was comparable to that of the typical hypervirulent isolate GM2. Even during the first 24 hours of infection, the bacterial load and pathological changes of the ampR-carrying isolates in the lungs were more severe than those of GM2. The ampRcomplement mutant was able to enhance the virulence of the KL47 isolate but not the virulence of KL1. Proteome analysis showed that the expression of WcaJ in the ampR+ isolates was significantly higher than that in the ampR- isolates, and this result was also confirmed by transcription tests and capsule staining. It is suggested that the enhancement of the initial stage of capsule synthesis may be the cause of the high virulence of these non-hypermucoviscous ST11 carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae isolates. Conclusions: Non-hypermucoviscous ST11 hypervirulent carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae warrants continued surveillance and investigation.

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