Population genomic molecular epidemiological study of macrolide resistant Streptococcus pyogenes in Iceland,1995-2016: Identification of a large clonal population with a pbp2x mutation conferring reduced in vitro beta-lactam susceptibility
Sara B. Southon,
Stephen B. Beres,
Matthew Ojeda Saavedra,
James M. Musser,
Karl G. Kristinsson
Posted 13 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.12.090365 (published DOI: 10.1128/JCM.00638-20)
Posted 13 May 2020
Resistance to macrolide antibiotics is a global concern in the treatment of Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Streptococcus, GAS) infections. In Iceland, since the detection of the first macrolide-resistant isolate in 1998, three epidemic waves of macrolide-resistant GAS infections have occurred with peaks in 1999, 2004, and 2008. We conducted whole genome sequencing of all 1,575 available GAS macrolide-resistant clinical isolates of all infection types collected at the national reference laboratory in Reykjavik from 1998 to 2016. Among 1,515 erythromycin-resistant isolates, 90.3% were of only three emm types: emm4 (n = 713), emm6 (n = 324), and emm12 (n = 332), with each being predominant in a distinct epidemic peak. The antibiotic efflux pump genes, mef(A) and msr(D), were present on chimeric mobile genetic elements in 99.3% of the macrolide-resistant isolates of these emm types. Of note, in addition to macrolide resistance, virtually all emm12 isolates had a single amino acid substitution in penicillin-binding protein PBP2X that conferred a two-fold increased penicillin G and ampicillin MIC among isolates tested. We conclude that each of the three large epidemic peaks of macrolide-resistant GAS infections occurring in Iceland since 1998 was caused by the emergence and clonal expansion of progenitor strains, with macrolide resistance being conferred predominantly by inducible Mef(A)-Msr(D) drug efflux pumps. The occurrence of emm12 strains with macrolide resistance and decreased beta-lactam susceptibility was unexpected and is of public health concern. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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