Epidemic incx3 plasmids spreading carbapenemase genes in the united arab emirates and worldwide

Shaimaa F. Mouftah, Tibor Pál, Dania Darwish, Akela Ghazawi, Laura Villa, Alessandra Carattoli, Ágnes Sonnevend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Plasmids of the incompatibility group X type 3 (IncX3) were described carrying various carbapenemase genes in carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) worldwide and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well. To understand the driving force behind the emergence of such plasmids in the UAE, the relationship between IncX3 plasmids encountered locally and globally was investigated. Methods: CPE strains isolated in the UAE during 2009–2014 were screened by X3 PCR-based replicon typing. The clonal relationship of CPE carrying IncX3 plasmids was determined by multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Complete sequence of selected IncX3 plasmids was determined. Phylogenetic relationship between the carbapenemase carrying IncX3 plasmids from the UAE and of those reported worldwide was established by comparing the plasmid backbones. Results: 10.2% of the 295 CPE tested were identified to carry IncX3 plasmids: 13 Escherichia coli, 13 Klebsiella pneumoniae, two Enterobacter cloacae, one Citrobacter freundii and one Morganella morganii isolate, respectively. Most of them were non-clonal; with small clusters of triplets and pairs of E. coli and K. pneumoniae, and a cluster of five K. pneumoniae ST11 exhibiting >90% similar PFGE patterns, respectively. The 30 isolates harbored either blaNDM-1, blaNDM-4, blaNDM-5, blaNDM-7, blaOXA-181 or blaKPC-2 carbapenemase genes on IncX3 plasmids. Phylogenetic analysis of the backbone region of IncX3 plasmids carrying various beta-lactamase genes from the UAE (n=23) and that of North- America, Europe, Asia and Australia (n=35) revealed three clusters based on the carbapenemase genes carried: Plasmids harboring blaOXA-181 and blaNDM-5 formed two distinct groups, whereas backbones of plasmids with blaNDM-1, blaNDM-4 and blaNDM-7 clustered together. Each cluster contained plasmids of diverse geographical origin. Conclusion: The findings suggest that different carbapenemase gene carrying IncX3 plasmids encountered in the UAE do not evolve locally, rather are subtypes of this epidemic plasmid emerging in this country due to international transfer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1729-1742
Number of pages14
JournalInfection and Drug Resistance
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Carbapenemase genes
  • Enterobacterales
  • IncX3 plasmid
  • Middle-East

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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