Genomic trajectories to fluoroquinolone resistance in Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica live vaccine strain


  • Sutera Vivien
  • Hennebique Aurélie
  • Lopez Fabrice
  • Fernandez Nicolas
  • Schneider Dominique
  • Maurin Max


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Francisella tularensis
  • Genome sequencing
  • Topoisomerase genes
  • Transport systems

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Objectives: Fluoroquinolone (FQ)-resistant mutants were previously selected from the live vaccine strain (LVS) of Francisella tularensis (F. tularensis) subsp. holarctica. This study further characterised all genetic changes that occurred in these mutants during the evolutionary trajectory toward high-level FQ resistance, and their potential impact on F. tularensis antibiotic resistance and intracellular fitness. Methods: The whole genomes of FQ-resistant mutants were determined and compared with those of their parental strain. All detected mutations were evaluated for their potential impact on FQ resistance and intracellular multiplication of F. tularensis. Results: As compared with the parental LVS genome, 28 mutations were found in the derived FQ-resistant mutants. These mutations involved all genes encoding type II topoisomerases (i.e. gyrA, gyrB, parC , and parE). Interestingly, some of them were not previously associated with FQ resistance, warranting further characterisation. Mutations associated with FQ resistance were also found in other genes, including three encoding proteins involved in transport processes. Most of the detected mutations did not alter multiplication of the corresponding mutants in J774 cells. In contrast, all mutations at locus FTL_0439 encoding FupA/B, a membrane protein involved in iron transport, were associated with FQ resistance and fitness loss. Conclusion: FQ resistance in F. tularensis is complex and may involve single or combined mutations in genes encoding type II topoisomerases, transport systems and FupA/B. In vivo studies are now required to assess the potential role of these mutations in FQ treatment failures.

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