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Prevalence of plasmid-borne benzalkonium chloride resistance cassette bcrABC and cadmium resistance cadA genes in nonpathogenic Listeria spp. isolated from food and food-processing environments

Korsak, Dorota, Chmielowska, Cora, Szuplewska, Magdalena, Bartosik, Dariusz
International journal of food microbiology 2019 v.290 pp. 247-253
Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria welshimeri, benzalkonium chloride, cadmium, food processing, nucleic acid hybridization, phenotype, plasmids, polymerase chain reaction, resistance genes, restriction fragment length polymorphism, transposons, Poland
The sixty-seven nonpathogenic Listeria spp. strains isolated from food and food processing environments in Poland were examined for the presence of benzalkonium chloride (BC) resistance cassette (bcrABC) and four different variants of cadmium resistance determinants (cadA1-cadA4). All the strains were phenotypically resistant to cadmium and 22 among them were also resistant to BC. PCR-based analysis revealed that bcrABC cassette was harbored by 95.5% of the strains phenotypically resistant to BC. All of them harbored also either cadA1 or cadA2 genes (none carried cadA3 or cadA4), which corresponded to the presence of plasmids with two restriction patterns. The strains resistant to cadmium but susceptible to BC harbored only the cadA1 gene variant. DNA-DNA hybridization analysis showed that all the identified bcrABC, cadA1 and cadA2 genes were located within plasmids, classified into 11 groups of RFLP profiles. Only one of the plasmids – pLIS1 of Listeria welshimeri (carrying bcrABC and cadA2) – was capable of efficient conjugal transfer from nonpathogenic Listeria isolates to a pathogenic Listeria monocytogenes strain. Analysis of the complete nucleotide sequence of pLIS1 (the first sequenced plasmid of L. welshimeri species) revealed the presence of genes involved in plasmid replication, stabilization and transfer as well as genes conferring resistance phenotypes. Comparative analysis showed that pLIS1 genome is highly similar to a group of plasmids originating from L. monocytogenes strains. A common feature of pLIS1 and its relatives, besides the presence of the resistance genes, is the presence of numerous transposable elements (TEs). The analysis revealed the important role of TEs in both promoting genetic rearrangements within Listeria spp. plasmids and the acquisition of resistance determinants.