Ann Lab Med 2020; 40(1): 15-20
Development of Tigecycline Resistance in Carbapenemase-Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae Sequence Type 147 via AcrAB Overproduction Mediated by Replacement of the ramA Promoter
Eun-Jeong Yoon, R.Ph., Ph.D., Yena Oh, B.S., and Seok Hoon Jeong, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Research Institute of Bacterial Resistance, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
Corresponding author: Seok Hoon Jeong, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Research Institute of Bacterial Resistance, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 211 Eonju-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06273, Korea
Tel: +82-2-2019-3532 Fax: +82-2-2057-8926 E-mail:
Received: February 7, 2019; Revised: April 9, 2019; Accepted: August 1, 2019; Published online: January 1, 2020.
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Background: Carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae 2297, isolated from a patient treated with tigecycline for pneumonia, developed tigecycline resistance, in contrast to carbapenem-resistant isolate 1215, which was collected four months prior to the 2297 isolate. Mechanisms underlying tigecycline resistance were elucidated for the clinical isolates.
Methods: The tigecycline minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) was determined using the broth microdilution method, with or without phenylalanine–arginine β-naphthylamide (PABN), and whole-genome sequencing was carried out by single-molecule real-time sequencing. The expression levels of the genes acrA, oqxA, ramA, rarA, and rpoB were determined by reverse-transcription quantitative PCR.
Results: Both isolates presented identical antibiograms, except for tigecycline, which showed an MIC of 0.5 mg/L in 1215 and 2 mg/L in 2297. The addition of PABN to tigecycline-resistant 2297 caused a four-fold decrease in the tigecycline MIC to 0.5 mg/L, although acrA expression (encoding the AcrAB efflux pump) was upregulated by 2.5 fold and ramA expression (encoding the pump activator RamA) was upregulated by 1.4 fold. We identified a 6,096-bp fragment insertion flanking direct TATAT repeats that disrupted the romA gene located upstream of ramA in the chromosome of K. pneumoniae 2297; the insertion led the ramA gene promoter replacement resulting in stronger activation of the gene.
Conclusions: The K. pneumoniae isolate developed tigecycline resistance during tigecycline treatment. It was related to the overexpression of the AcrAB resistance-nodulation-cell division efflux system due to promoter replacement.
Keywords: Tigecycline, Resistance, ramA, AcrAB, Klebsiella pneumoniae

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