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Background: mcr-1-mediated colistin resistance in Enterobacteriaceae is concerning, as colistin is used in treating multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae infections. We identified trends in human fecal mcr-1-positivity rates and colonization with mcr-1-positive, third-generation cephalosporin-resistant (3GC-R) Enterobacteriaceae in Guangzhou, China, and investigated the genetic contexts of mcr-1 in mcr-1-positive 3GC-R strains. Methods: Fecal samples were collected from in-/out-patients submitting specimens to 3 hospitals (2011-2016). mcr-1 carriage trends were assessed using iterative sequential regression. A subset of mcr-1-positive isolates was sequenced (whole-genome sequencing [WGS], Illumina), and genetic contexts (flanking regions, plasmids) of mcr-1 were characterized. Results: Of 8022 fecal samples collected, 497 (6.2%) were mcr-1 positive, and 182 (2.3%) harbored mcr-1-positive 3GC-R Enterobacteriaceae. We observed marked increases in mcr-1 (0% [April 2011] to 31% [March 2016]) and more recent (since January 2014; 0% [April 2011] to 15% [March 2016]) increases in human colonization with mcr-1-positive 3GC-R Enterobacteriaceae (P < .001). mcr-1-positive 3GC-R isolates were commonly multidrug resistant. WGS of mcr-1-positive 3GC-R isolates (70 Escherichia coli, 3 Klebsiella pneumoniae) demonstrated bacterial strain diversity; mcr-1 in association with common plasmid backbones (IncI, IncHI2/HI2A, IncX4) and sometimes in multiple plasmids; frequent mcr-1 chromosomal integration; and high mobility of the mcr-1-associated insertion sequence ISApl1. Sequence data were consistent with plasmid spread among animal/human reservoirs. Conclusions: The high prevalence of mcr-1 in multidrug-resistant E. coli colonizing humans is a clinical threat; diverse genetic mechanisms (strains/plasmids/insertion sequences) have contributed to the dissemination of mcr-1, and will facilitate its persistence.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Infect Dis

Publication Date





676 - 685