Background: The systemic surveillance of imipenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (IRAB) from multicenters in Taiwan revealed the emergence of isolates with blaOXA-72. This study described their genetic makeup, mechanism of spread, and contribution to carbapenem resistance.Methods: Two hundred and ninety-one non-repetitive isolates of A. baumannii were collected from 10 teaching hospitals from different geographical regions in Taiwan from June 2007 to September 2007. Minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) were determined by agar dilution. Clonality was determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Plasmid was extracted and digested by restriction enzymes, and subsequently analyzed by electrophoresis and Southern blot for blaOXA-72. The flanking regions of blaOXA-72 were determined by inverse PCR. The contribution of blaOXA-72 to imipenem MIC was determined by transforming plasmids carrying blaOXA-72 into imipenem-susceptible A. baumannii.Results: Among 142 IRAB in Taiwan, 27 harbored blaOXA-72; 22 originated from Southern Taiwan, 5 from Central Taiwan, and none from Northern Taiwan. There were two major clones. The blaOXA-72 was identified in the plasmids of all isolates. Two genetic structures flanking plasmid-borne blaOXA-72 were identified and shared identical sequences in certain regions; the one described in previous literature was present in only one isolate, and the new one was present in the remaining isolates. Introduction of blaOXA-72 resulted in an increase of imipenem MIC in the transformants. The overexpression of blaOXA-72 mRNA in response to imipenem further supported the contribution of blaOXA-72.. Conclusions: In conclusion, isolates with new plasmid-borne blaOXA-72 were found to be disseminated successfully in Southern Taiwan. The spread of the resistance gene depended on clonal spread and dissemination of a new plasmid. BlaOXA-72 in these isolates directly led to their imipenem-resistance.
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