Objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate the prevalence of integrons and to characterize inserted gene cassettes in Escherichia coli isolated from meat and meat products of Norwegian origin.
Methods: The strains investigated (n = 241 resistant out of 944 investigated) were collected within the frame of the Norwegian monitoring programme for antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from feed, food and animals (NORM-VET) during the years 2000–2003. PCR and DNA sequencing were used for detection of the integrase genes and gene cassettes within the integrons.
Results: Integrons were detected in 43 (18%) of the 241 resistant isolates. Class 1 integrons were detected in 29 (12%) strains and class 2 integrons were detected in 14 (6%) strains. Ten different gene cassettes were detected: dfrA1, dfr2a, dfrA12, aadA1, aadA2, catB2, oxa-30, sat, sat1 and orfF. The dfrA1 + aadA1 combination was the most prevalent cassette combination, detected in 12 of 29 class 1 integrons. Twelve (of 14) class 2 integrons contained a cassette area consistent with that on Tn7, the remaining two contained the cassettes sat + sat1 + aadA1. Nearly one-third of the class 1 integrons (9 of 29) lacked the sul1 gene. Ten gene cassettes (one dfr2a, two catB2 and seven aadA1) were expressed at levels below breakpoint values normally used to classify strains as resistant.
Conclusions: Integrons of class 1 or 2 were present in ∼18% of the resistant E. coli strains investigated. Certain cassette combinations in class 1 integrons seem to be more widespread than others, like the dfrA1 + aadA1. Low-level expression of antimicrobial resistance, caused by the expression of certain gene cassettes in some integrons represents an obstacle in classifying strains as susceptible or resistant.
Keywords: gene cassettes; antibiotic resistance monitoring programme; resistant bacteria in food
Journal Article. 4102 words.
Subjects: Medical Oncology ; Critical Care
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