Pathogens and disease

Distribution of antimicrobial resistance determinants, virulence-associated factors and clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats loci in isolates of Enterococcus faecalis from various settings and genetic lineages.

PMID 28334141


Enterococcus faecalis represents an important factor of hospital-associated infections (HAIs). The knowledge on its evolution from a commensal to an opportunistic pathogen is still limited; thus, we performed a study to characterise distribution of factors that may contribute to this adaptation. Using a collection obtained from various settings (hospitalised patients, community carriers, animals, fresh food, sewage, water), we investigated differences in antimicrobial susceptibility, distribution of antimicrobial resistance genes, virulence-associated determinants and phenotypes, and CRISPR loci in the context of the clonal relatedness of isolates. Bayesian Analysis of Population Structure revealed the presence of three major groups; two subgroups comprised almost exclusively HAI isolates, belonging to previously proposed enterococcal high-risk clonal complexes (HiRECCs) 6 and 28. Isolates of these two subgroups were significantly enriched in antimicrobial resistance genes, presumably produced a polysaccharide capsule and often carried the aggregation substance asa1; distribution of other virulence-associated genes, such as esp and cyl, formation of a biofilm and gelatinase production were more variable. Moreover, both subgroups showed a low prevalence of CRISPR-Cas 1 and 3 and presence of small CRISPR2 variants. Our study confirms the importance of HiRECCs in the population of E. faecalis and their confinement to the hospital settings.