Role of mobile genetic elements in the global dissemination of the carbapenem resistance gene blaNDM
The mobile resistance gene blaNDM encodes the NDM enzyme which hydrolyses carbapenems, a class of antibiotics used to treat some of the most severe bacterial infections. The blaNDM gene is globally distributed across a variety of Gram-negative bacteria on multiple plasmids, typically located within highly recombining and transposon-rich genomic regions, which leads to the dynamics underlying the global dissemination of blaNDM to remain poorly resolved. Here, we compile a dataset of over 6000 bacterial genomes harbouring the blaNDM gene, including 104 newly generated PacBio hybrid assemblies from clinical and livestock-associated isolates across China. We develop a computational approach to track structural variants surrounding blaNDM, which allows us to identify prevalent genomic contexts, mobile genetic elements, and likely events in the gene’s global spread. We estimate that blaNDM emerged on a Tn125 transposon before 1985, but only reached global prevalence around a decade after its first recorded observation in 2005.
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