The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy

Presence of Type I-F CRISPR/Cas systems is associated with antimicrobial susceptibility in Escherichia coli.

PMID 28535195


Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) and their associated cas genes are sequence-specific DNA nuclease systems found in bacteria and archaea. CRISPR/Cas systems use RNA transcripts of previously acquired DNA (spacers) to target invading genetic elements with the same sequence, including plasmids. In this research we studied the relationship between CRISPR/Cas systems and multidrug resistance in Escherichia coli . The presence of Type I-E and Type I-F CRISPR systems was investigated among 82 antimicrobial-susceptible and 96 MDR clinical E. coli isolates by PCR and DNA sequencing. Phylogrouping and MLST were performed to determine relatedness of isolates. RT-PCR was performed to ascertain the expression of associated cas genes. Type I-F CRISPR was associated with the B2 phylogroup and was significantly overrepresented in the susceptible group (22.0%) compared with the MDR group (2.1%). The majority of CRISPR I-F-containing isolates had spacer sequences that matched IncF and IncI plasmids. RT-PCR demonstrated that Type I-F cas genes were expressed and therefore potentially functional. The CRISPR I-F system is more likely to be found in antimicrobial-susceptible E. coli . Given that the Type I-F system is expressed in WT isolates, we suggest that this difference could be due to the CRISPR system potentially interfering with the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance plasmids, maintaining susceptibility in these isolates.