Population genomic analysis of 1,777 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates, Houston, Texas: Unexpected abundance of clonal group 307

S. Wesley Long, Randall J. Olsen, Todd N. Eagar, Stephen B. Beres, Picheng Zhao, James J. Davis, Thomas Brettin, Fangfang Xia, James M. Musser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Klebsiella pneumoniae is a major human pathogen responsible for high morbidity and mortality rates. The emergence and spread of strains resistant to multiple antimicrobial agents and documented large nosocomial outbreaks are especially concerning. To develop new therapeutic strategies for K. pneumoniae, it is imperative to understand the population genomic structure of strains causing human infections. To address this knowledge gap, we sequenced the genomes of 1,777 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing K. pneumoniae strains cultured from patients in the 2,000-bed Houston Methodist Hospital system between September 2011 and May 2015, representing a comprehensive, population-based strain sample. Strains of largely uncharacterized clonal group 307 (CG307) caused more infections than those of well-studied epidemic CG258. Strains varied markedly in gene content and had an extensive array of small and very large plasmids, often containing antimicrobial resistance genes. Some patients with multiple strains cultured over time were infected with genetically distinct clones. We identified 15 strains expressing the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) enzyme that confers broad resistance to nearly all beta-lactam antibiotics. Transcriptome sequencing analysis of 10 phylogenetically diverse strains showed that the global transcriptome of each strain was unique and highly variable. Experimental mouse infection provided new information about immunological parameters of host-pathogen interaction. We exploited the large data set to develop whole-genome sequence-based classifiers that accurately predict clinical antimicrobial resistance for 12 of the 16 antibiotics tested. We conclude that analysis of large, comprehensive, population-based strain samples can assist understanding of the molecular diversity of these organisms and contribute to enhanced translational research. IMPORTANCE Klebsiella pneumoniae causes human infections that are increasingly difficult to treat because many strains are resistant to multiple antibiotics. Clonal group 258 (CG258) organisms have caused outbreaks in health care settings worldwide. Using a comprehensive population-based sample of extended-spectrum betalactamase (ESBL)-producing K. pneumoniae strains, we show that a relatively uncommon clonal type, CG307, caused the plurality of ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae infections in our patients. We discovered that CG307 strains have been abundant in Houston for many years. As assessed by experimental mouse infection, CG307 strains were as virulent as pandemic CG258 strains. Our results may portend the emergence of an especially successful clonal group of antibiotic-resistant K. pneumoniae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00489-17
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017


  • Journal Article

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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