Coexistence of Antibiotic Resistance Genes and Virulence Factors Deciphered by Large-Scale Complete Genome Analysis

Yu Pan, Jiaxiong Zeng, Liguan Li, Jintao Yang, Ziyun Tang, Wenguang Xiong, Yafei Li, Sheng Chen, Zhenling Zeng

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Abstract

Widespread use of antibiotics has enhanced the evolution of highly resilient pathogens and poses a severe risk to human health via coselection of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and virulence factors (VFs). In this study, we rigorously evaluate the abundance relationship and physical linkage between ARGs and VFs by performing a comprehensive analysis of 9,070 bacterial genomes isolated from multiple species and hosts. The coexistence of ARGs and VFs was observed in bacteria across distinct phyla, pathogenicities, and habitats, especially among human-associated pathogens. The coexistence patterns of gene elements in different habitats and pathogenicity groups were similar, presumably due to frequent gene transfer. A shorter intergenic distance between mobile genetic elements and ARGs/VFs was detected in human/animal-associated bacteria, indicating a higher transfer potential. Increased accumulation of exogenous ARGs/VFs in human pathogens highlights the importance of gene acquisition in the evolution of human commensal bacteria. Overall, the findings provide insights into the genic features of combinations of ARG-VF and expand our understanding of ARG-VF coexistence in bacteria.IMPORTANCE Antibiotic resistance has become a serious global health concern. Despite numerous case studies, a comprehensive analysis of ARG and VF coexistence in bacteria is lacking. In this study, we explore the coexistence profiles of ARGs and VFs in diverse categories of bacteria by using a high-resolution bioinformatics approach. We also provide compelling evidence of unique ARG-VF gene pairs coexisting in specific bacterial genomes and reveal the potential risk associated with the coexistence of ARGs and VFs in organisms in both clinical settings and environments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalmSystems
Volume5
Issue number3
ISSN2379-5077
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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Copyright © 2020 Pan et al.

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