Gene Therapy

Gene Therapy Publications

Yang J-H, Hayano M, Griffin PT, Amorim JA, Bonkowski MS, Apostolides JK, Salfati EL, Blanchette M, Munding EM, Bhakta M, Chew YC, Guo W, Yang X, Maybury-Lewis S, Tian X, Ross JM, Coppotelli G, Meer MV, Rogers-Hammond R, Vera DL, Lu YR, Pippin JW, Creswell ML, Dou Z, Xu C, Mitchell SJ, Das A, O'Connell BL, Thakur S, Kane AE, Su Q, Mohri Y, Nishimura EK, Schaevitz L, Garg N, Balta A-M, Rego MA, Gregory-Ksander M, Jakobs TC, Zhong L, Wakimoto H, El Andari J, Grimm D, Mostoslavsky R, Wagers AJ, Tsubota K, Bonasera SJ, Palmeira CM, Seidman JG, Seidman CE, Wolf NS, Kreiling JA, Sedivy JM, Murphy GF, Green RE, Garcia BA, Berger SL, Oberdoerffer P, Shankland SJ, Gladyshev VN, Ksander BR, Pfenning AR, Rajman LA, Sinclair DA. Loss of epigenetic information as a cause of mammalian aging. Cell 2023;186(2):305-326.e27.Abstract
All living things experience an increase in entropy, manifested as a loss of genetic and epigenetic information. In yeast, epigenetic information is lost over time due to the relocalization of chromatin-modifying proteins to DNA breaks, causing cells to lose their identity, a hallmark of yeast aging. Using a system called "ICE" (inducible changes to the epigenome), we find that the act of faithful DNA repair advances aging at physiological, cognitive, and molecular levels, including erosion of the epigenetic landscape, cellular exdifferentiation, senescence, and advancement of the DNA methylation clock, which can be reversed by OSK-mediated rejuvenation. These data are consistent with the information theory of aging, which states that a loss of epigenetic information is a reversible cause of aging.
Nagel-Wolfrum K, Fadl BR, Becker MM, Wunderlich KA, Schäfer J, Sturm D, Fritze J, Gür B, Kaplan L, Andreani T, Goldmann T, Brooks M, Starostik MR, Lokhande A, Apel M, Fath KR, Stingl K, Kohl S, Deangelis MM, Schlötzer-Schrehardt U, Kim IK, Owen LA, Vetter JM, Pfeiffer N, Andrade-Navarro MA, Grosche A, Swaroop A, Wolfrum U. Expression and subcellular localization of USH1C/harmonin in human retina provides insights into pathomechanisms and therapy. Hum Mol Genet 2023;32(3):431-449.Abstract
Usher syndrome (USH) is the most common form of hereditary deaf-blindness in humans. USH is a complex genetic disorder, assigned to three clinical subtypes differing in onset, course and severity, with USH1 being the most severe. Rodent USH1 models do not reflect the ocular phenotype observed in human patients to date; hence, little is known about the pathophysiology of USH1 in the human eye. One of the USH1 genes, USH1C, exhibits extensive alternative splicing and encodes numerous harmonin protein isoforms that function as scaffolds for organizing the USH interactome. RNA-seq analysis of human retinae uncovered harmonin_a1 as the most abundant transcript of USH1C. Bulk RNA-seq analysis and immunoblotting showed abundant expression of harmonin in Müller glia cells (MGCs) and retinal neurons. Furthermore, harmonin was localized in the terminal endfeet and apical microvilli of MGCs, presynaptic region (pedicle) of cones and outer segments (OS) of rods as well as at adhesive junctions between MGCs and photoreceptor cells (PRCs) in the outer limiting membrane (OLM). Our data provide evidence for the interaction of harmonin with OLM molecules in PRCs and MGCs and rhodopsin in PRCs. Subcellular expression and colocalization of harmonin correlate with the clinical phenotype observed in USH1C patients. We also demonstrate that primary cilia defects in USH1C patient-derived fibroblasts could be reverted by the delivery of harmonin_a1 transcript isoform. Our studies thus provide novel insights into PRC cell biology, USH1C pathophysiology and development of gene therapy treatment(s).
Katz MG, Hadas Y, Bailey RA, Fazal S, Vincek A, Madjarova SJ, Shtraizent N, Vandenberghe LH, Eliyahu E. Efficient cardiac gene transfer and early-onset expression of a synthetic adeno-associated viral vector, Anc80L65, after intramyocardial administration. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2022;164(6):e429-e443.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Gene therapy is a promising approach in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that adeno-associated viral vectors are the most attractive vehicles for gene transfer. However, preexisting immunity, delayed gene expression, and postinfection immune response limit the success of this technology. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of the first synthetic adeno-associated viral lineage clone, Anc80L65, for cardiac gene therapy. METHODS: By combining 2 different reporter approaches by fluorescence with green fluorescent protein and bioluminescence (Firefly luciferase), we compared transduction efficiency of Anc80L65 and adeno-associated virus, serotype 9 in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes ex vivo and rat hearts in vivo after intramyocardial and intracoronary administration. RESULTS: In cardiomyocytes, Anc80L65 provided a green fluorescent protein expression of 28.9% (36.4 ± 3.34 cells/field) at 24 hours and approximately 100% on day 7. In contrast, adeno-associated virus, serotype 9 green fluorescent protein provided minimal green fluorescent protein expression of 5.64% at 24 hours and 11.8% on day 7. After intramyocardial injection, vector expression peaked on day 7 with Anc80L65; however, with adeno-associated virus, serotype 9 the peak expression was during week 6. Administration of Anc80L65 demonstrated significantly more efficient expression of reporter gene than after adeno-associated virus, serotype 9 at 6 weeks (6.81 ± 0.64 log10 gc/100 ng DNA vs 6.49 ± 0.28 log10 gc/100 ng DNA, P < .05). These results were consistent with the amount of genome copy per cell observed in the heart. CONCLUSIONS: Anc80L65 vector allows fast and robust gene transduction compared with adeno-associated virus, serotype 9 vector in cardiac gene therapy. Anc80L65 did not adversely affect cardiac function and caused no inflammatory response or toxicity.
Vignal-ClermoḤ C, Yu-Wai-Man P, Newman NJ, Carelli V, Moster ML, Biousse V, Subramanian PS, Wang A-G, Donahue SP, Leroy BP, Sadun AA, Klopstock T, Sergott RC, Fernández GR, Chwalisz BK, Banik R, Taiel M, Roux M, Sahel J-A, Sahel J-A. Safety of lenadogene nolparvovec gene therapy over 5 years in 189 patients with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. Am J Ophthalmol 2022;Abstract
PURPOSE: Evaluate the safety profile of lenadogene nolparvovec (Lumevoq®) in patients with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. DESIGN: Pooled analysis of safety data from 5 clinical studies. METHODS: A total of 189 patients received single unilateral or bilateral intravitreal injections of a recombinant adeno-associated virus 2 (rAAV2/2) vector encoding the human wild-type ND4 gene. Adverse events (AEs) were collected throughout the studies, up to 5 years. Intraocular inflammation and increased intraocular pressure (IOP) were ocular AEs of special interest. Other assessments included ocular examinations, vector bio-dissemination and systemic immune responses against rAAV2/2. RESULTS: Almost all patients (95.2%) received 9 × 1010 viral genomes and 87.8% had at least 2 years of follow-up. Most patients (75.1%) experienced at least one systemic AE, but systemic treatment-related AEs occurred in 3 patients, none was serious. Intraocular inflammation was reported in 75.6% of lenadogene nolparvovec-treated eyes. Almost all intraocular inflammations occurred in the anterior chamber (58.8%) or in the vitreous (40.3%) and was of mild (90.3%) or moderate (8.8%) intensity; most resolved with topical corticosteroids alone. All IOP increases were mild to moderate in intensity. No AE led to study discontinuation. Bio-dissemination of lenadogene nolparvovec and systemic immune response were limited. The safety profile was comparable for patients treated bilaterally and unilaterally. CONCLUSIONS: Lenadogene nolparvovec has a good overall safety profile with excellent systemic tolerability, consistent with limited bio-dissemination. The product is well tolerated, with mostly mild ocular side effects responsive to conventional ophthalmologic treatments.
Zinn E, Unzu C, Schmit PF, Turunen HT, Zabaleta N, Sanmiguel J, Fieldsend A, Bhatt U, Diop C, Merkel E, Gurrala R, Peacker B, Rios C, Messemer K, Santos J, Estelien R, Andres-Mateos E, Wagers AJ, Tipper C, Vandenberghe LH. Ancestral library identifies conserved reprogrammable liver motif on AAV capsid. Cell Rep Med 2022;3(11):100803.Abstract
Gene therapy is emerging as a modality in 21st-century medicine. Adeno-associated viral (AAV) gene transfer is a leading technology to achieve efficient and durable expression of a therapeutic transgene. However, the structural complexity of the capsid has constrained efforts to engineer the particle toward improved clinical safety and efficacy. Here, we generate a curated library of barcoded AAVs with mutations across a variety of functionally relevant motifs. We then screen this library in vitro and in vivo in mice and nonhuman primates, enabling a broad, multiparametric assessment of every vector within the library. Among the results, we note a single residue that modulates liver transduction across all interrogated models while preserving transduction in heart and skeletal muscles. Moreover, we find that this mutation can be grafted into AAV9 and leads to profound liver detargeting while retaining muscle transduction-a finding potentially relevant to preventing hepatoxicities seen in clinical studies.
Peng D-W, Lan C-L, Dong L-Q, Jiang M-X, Xiao H, D'Amato RJ, Chi Z-L. Anti-angiogenic properties of microRNA-29a in preclinical ocular models. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2022;119(45):e2204795119.Abstract
Abnormal neovascularization is an important cause of blindness in many ocular diseases, for which the etiology and pathogenic mechanisms remain incompletely understood. Recent studies have revealed the diverse roles of noncoding RNAs in various biological processes and facilitated the research and development of the clinical application of numerous RNA drugs, including microRNAs. Here, we report the antiangiogenic activity of microRNA-29a (miR-29a) in three animal models of ocular neovascularization. The miR-29a knockout (KO) mice displayed enhanced vessel pruning, resulting in a decreased vascularized area during retinal development. In contrast, miR-29a deletion in adult mice accelerated angiogenesis in preclinical disease models, including corneal neovascularization, oxygen-induced retinopathy, and choroidal neovascularization, while the administration of agomir-29a ameliorated pathological neovascularization. Furthermore, miR-29a exerted inhibitory effects on endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and tube formation capacities. RNA sequencing analysis of retinas from miR-29a KO mice and RNA interference experiments identified platelet-derived growth factor C and several extracellular matrix genes as downstream targets of miR-29a involved in regulating ocular angiogenesis. Our data suggest that miR-29a may be a promising clinical candidate for the treatment of neovascular diseases.
Newman NJ, Yu-Wai-Man P, Subramanian PS, Moster ML, Wang A-G, Donahue SP, Leroy BP, Carelli V, Biousse V, Vignal-Clermont C, Sergott RC, Sadun AA, Fernández GR, Chwalisz BK, Banik R, Bazin F, Roux M, Cox ED, Taiel M, Sahel J-A, Sahel J-A. Randomized trial of bilateral gene therapy injection for m.11778G > A MT-ND4 Leber optic neuropathy. Brain 2022;Abstract
Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is an important example of mitochondrial blindness with the m.11778G > A mutation in the MT-ND4 gene being the most common disease-causing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variant worldwide. The REFLECT phase 3 pivotal study is a randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial investigating the efficacy and safety of bilateral intravitreal injection of lenadogene nolparvovec in patients with a confirmed m.11778G > A mutation, using a recombinant adeno-associated virus vector 2, serotype 2 (rAAV2/2-ND4). The first-affected eye received gene therapy; the fellow (affected/not-yet-affected) eye was randomly injected with gene therapy or placebo. The primary endpoint was the difference in change from baseline of best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) in second-affected/not-yet-affected eyes treated with lenadogene nolparvovec versus placebo at 1.5 years post-treatment, expressed in logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution (LogMAR). Forty-eight patients were treated bilaterally and 50 unilaterally. At 1.5 years, the change from baseline in BCVA was not statistically different between second-affected/not-yet-affected eyes receiving lenadogene nolparvovec and placebo (primary endpoint). A statistically significant improvement in BCVA was reported from baseline to 1.5 years in lenadogene nolparvovec-treated eyes: -0.23 LogMAR for the first-affected eyes of bilaterally treated patients (p < 0.01); and -0.15 LogMAR for second-affected/not-yet-affected eyes of bilaterally treated patients and the first-affected eyes of unilaterally treated patients (p < 0.05). The mean improvement in BCVA from nadir to 1.5 years was -0.38 (0.052) LogMAR and -0.33 (0.052) LogMAR in first-affected and second-affected/not-yet-affected eyes treated with lenadogene nolparvovec, respectively (bilateral treatment group). A mean improvement of -0.33 (0.051) LogMAR and -0.26 (0.051) LogMAR was observed in first-affected lenadogene nolparvovec-treated eyes and second-affected/not-yet-affected placebo-treated eyes, respectively (unilateral treatment group). The proportion of patients with one or both eyes on-chart at 1.5 years was 85.4% and 72.0% for bilaterally and unilaterally treated patients, respectively. The gene therapy was well tolerated, with no systemic issues. Intraocular inflammation, which was mostly mild and well controlled with topical corticosteroids, occurred in 70.7% of lenadogene nolparvovec-treated eyes versus 10.2% of placebo-treated eyes. Among eyes treated with lenadogene nolparvovec, there was no difference in the incidence of intraocular inflammation between bilaterally and unilaterally treated patients. Overall, the REFLECT trial demonstrated an improvement of BCVA in LHON eyes carrying the m.11778G > A mtDNA mutation treated with lenadogene nolparvovec or placebo to a degree not reported in natural history studies and supports an improved benefit/risk profile for bilateral injections of lenadogene nolparvovec relative to unilateral injections.
Girach A, Audo I, Birch DG, Huckfeldt RM, Lam BL, Leroy BP, Michaelides M, Russell SR, Sallum JMF, Stingl K, Tsang SH, Yang P. RNA-based therapies in inherited retinal diseases. Ther Adv Ophthalmol 2022;14:25158414221134602.Abstract
Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are a genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous group of genetic eye disorders. There are more than 300 disease entities, and together this group of disorders affects millions of people globally and is a frequent cause of blindness or low-vision certification. However, each type is rare or ultra-rare. Characteristically, the impaired vision in IRDs is due to retinal photoreceptor dysfunction and loss resulting from mutation in a gene that codes for a retinal protein. Historically, IRDs have been considered incurable and individuals living with these blinding conditions could be offered only supportive care. However, the treatment landscape for IRDs is beginning to evolve. Progress is being made, driven by improvements in understanding of genotype-phenotype relationships, through advances in molecular genetic testing and retinal imaging. Alongside this expanding knowledge of IRDs, the current era of precision medicine is fueling a growth in targeted therapies. This has resulted in the first treatment for an IRD being approved. Several other therapies are currently in development in the IRD space, including RNA-based therapies, gene-based therapies (such as augmentation therapy and gene editing), cell therapy, visual prosthetics, and optogenetics. RNA-based therapies are a novel approach within precision medicine that have demonstrated success, particularly in rare diseases. Three antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) are currently in development for the treatment of specific IRD subtypes. These RNA-based therapies bring several key advantages in the setting of IRDs, and the potential to bring meaningful vision benefit to individuals living with inherited blinding disorders. This review will examine the increasing breadth and relevance of RNA-based therapies in clinical medicine, explore the key features that make AONs suitable for treating genetic eye diseases, and provide an overview of the three-leading investigational AONs in clinical trials.
Whitman MC, Gilette NM, Bell JL, Kim SA, Tischfield M, Engle EC. TWIST1, a gene associated with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, regulates extraocular muscle organization in mouse. Dev Biol 2022;490:126-133.Abstract
Heterozygous loss of function mutations in TWIST1 cause Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, which is characterized by craniosynostosis, facial asymmetry, ptosis, strabismus, and distinctive ear appearance. Individuals with syndromic craniosynostosis have high rates of strabismus and ptosis, but the underlying pathology is unknown. Some individuals with syndromic craniosynostosis have been noted to have absence of individual extraocular muscles or abnormal insertions of the extraocular muscles on the globe. Using conditional knock-out alleles for Twist1 in cranial mesenchyme, we test the hypothesis that Twist1 is required for extraocular muscle organization and position, attachment to the globe, and/or innervation by the cranial nerves. We examined the extraocular muscles in conditional Twist1 knock-out animals using Twist2-cre and Pdgfrb-cre drivers. Both are expressed in cranial mesoderm and neural crest. Conditional inactivation of Twist1 using these drivers leads to disorganized extraocular muscles that cannot be reliably identified as specific muscles. Tendons do not form normally at the insertion and origin of these dysplastic muscles. Knock-out of Twist1 expression in tendon precursors, using scleraxis-cre, however, does not alter EOM organization. Furthermore, developing motor neurons, which do not express Twist1, display abnormal axonal trajectories in the orbit in the presence of dysplastic extraocular muscles. Strabismus in individuals with TWIST1 mutations may therefore be caused by abnormalities in extraocular muscle development and secondary abnormalities in innervation and tendon formation.
Kuo A, Checa A, Niaudet C, Jung B, Fu Z, Wheelock CE, Singh SA, Aikawa M, Smith LE, Proia RL, Hla T. Murine endothelial serine palmitoyltransferase 1 (SPTLC1) is required for vascular development and systemic sphingolipid homeostasis. Elife 2022;11Abstract
Serine palmitoyl transferase (SPT), the rate-limiting enzyme in the de novo synthesis of sphingolipids (SL), is needed for embryonic development, physiological homeostasis, and response to stress. The functions of de novo SL synthesis in vascular endothelial cells (EC), which line the entire circulatory system, are not well understood. Here, we show that the de novo SL synthesis in EC not only regulates vascular development but also maintains circulatory and peripheral organ SL levels. Mice with an endothelial-specific gene knockout of SPTLC1 (Sptlc1 ECKO), an essential subunit of the SPT complex, exhibited reduced EC proliferation and tip/stalk cell differentiation, resulting in delayed retinal vascular development. In addition, Sptlc1 ECKO mice had reduced retinal neovascularization in the oxygen-induced retinopathy model. Mechanistic studies suggest that EC SL produced from the de novo pathway are needed for lipid raft formation and efficient VEGF signaling. Post-natal deletion of the EC Sptlc1 also showed rapid reduction of several SL metabolites in plasma, red blood cells, and peripheral organs (lung and liver) but not in the retina, part of the central nervous system (CNS). In the liver, EC de novo SL synthesis was important for acetaminophen-induced rapid ceramide elevation and hepatotoxicity. These results suggest that EC-derived SL metabolites are in constant flux between the vasculature, circulatory elements, and parenchymal cells of non-CNS organs. Taken together, our data point to the central role of the endothelial SL biosynthesis in maintaining vascular development, neovascular proliferation, non-CNS tissue metabolic homeostasis, and hepatocyte response to stress.
Lu Y-C, Tsai Y-H, Chan Y-H, Hu C-J, Huang C-Y, Xiao R, Hsu C-J, Vandenberghe LH, Wu C-C, Cheng Y-F. Gene therapy with a synthetic adeno-associated viral vector improves audiovestibular phenotypes in Pjvk-mutant mice. JCI Insight 2022;7(20)Abstract
Recessive PJVK mutations that cause a deficiency of pejvakin, a protein expressed in both sensory hair cells and first-order neurons of the inner ear, are an important cause of hereditary hearing impairment. Patients with PJVK mutations garner limited benefits from cochlear implantation; thus, alternative biological therapies may be required to address this clinical difficulty. The synthetic adeno-associated viral vector Anc80L65, with its wide tropism and high transduction efficiency in various inner ear cells, may provide a solution. We delivered the PJVK transgene to the inner ear of Pjvk mutant mice using the synthetic Anc80L65 vector. We observed robust exogenous pejvakin expression in the hair cells and neurons of the cochlea and vestibular organs. Subsequent morphologic and audiologic studies demonstrated significant restoration of spiral ganglion neuron density and hair cells in the cochlea, along with partial recovery of sensorineural hearing impairment. In addition, we observed a recovery of vestibular ganglion neurons and balance function to WT levels. Our study demonstrates the utility of Anc80L65-mediated gene delivery in Pjvk mutant mice and provides insights into the potential of gene therapy for PJVK-related inner ear deficits.
Aleman TS, Huckfeldt RM, Serrano LW, Pearson DJ, Vergilio GK, McCague S, Marshall KA, Ashtari M, Doan TM, Weigel-DiFranco CA, Biron BS, Wen X-H, Chung DC, Liu E, Ferenchak K, Morgan JIW, Pierce EA, Eliott D, Bennett J, Comander J, Maguire AM. Adeno-Associated Virus Serotype 2-hCHM Subretinal Delivery to the Macula in Choroideremia: Two-Year Interim Results of an Ongoing Phase I/II Gene Therapy Trial. Ophthalmology 2022;129(10):1177-1191.Abstract
PURPOSE: To assess the safety of the subretinal delivery of a recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (AAV2) vector carrying a human choroideremia (CHM)-encoding cDNA in CHM. DESIGN: Prospective, open-label, nonrandomized, dose-escalation, phase I/II clinical trial. PARTICIPANTS: Fifteen CHM patients (ages 20-57 years at dosing). METHODS: Patients received uniocular subfoveal injections of low-dose (up to 5 × 1010 vector genome [vg] per eye, n = 5) or high-dose (up to 1 × 1011 vg per eye, n = 10) of a recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (AAV2) vector carrying a human CHM-encoding cDNA (AAV2-hCHM). Patients were evaluated preoperatively and postoperatively for 2 years with ophthalmic examinations, multimodal retinal imaging, and psychophysical testing. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Visual acuity, perimetry (10-2 protocol), spectral-domain OCT (SD-OCT), and short-wavelength fundus autofluorescence (SW-FAF). RESULTS: We detected no vector-related or systemic toxicities. Visual acuity returned to within 15 letters of baseline in all but 2 patients (1 developed acute foveal thinning, and 1 developed a macular hole); the rest showed no gross changes in foveal structure at 2 years. There were no significant differences between intervention and control eyes in mean light-adapted sensitivity by perimetry or in the lateral extent of retinal pigment epithelium relative preservation by SD-OCT and SW-FAF. Microperimetry showed nonsignificant (< 3 standard deviations of the intervisit variability) gains in sensitivity in some locations and participants in the intervention eye. There were no obvious dose-dependent relationships. CONCLUSIONS: Visual acuity was within 15 letters of baseline after the subfoveal AAV2-hCHM injections in 13 of 15 patients. Acute foveal thinning with unchanged perifoveal function in 1 patient and macular hole in 1 patient suggest foveal vulnerability to the subretinal injections. Longer observation intervals will help establish the significance of the minor differences in sensitivities and rate of disease progression observed between intervention and control eyes.
Salamzade R, Manson AL, Walker BJ, Brennan-Krohn T, Worby CJ, Ma P, He LL, Shea TP, Qu J, Chapman SB, Howe W, Young SK, Wurster JI, Delaney ML, Kanjilal S, Onderdonk AB, Bittencourt CE, Gussin GM, Kim D, Peterson EM, Ferraro MJ, Hooper DC, Shenoy ES, Cuomo CA, Cosimi LA, Huang SS, Kirby JE, Pierce VM, Bhattacharyya RP, Earl AM. Inter-species geographic signatures for tracing horizontal gene transfer and long-term persistence of carbapenem resistance. Genome Med 2022;14(1):37.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE) are an urgent global health threat. Inferring the dynamics of local CRE dissemination is currently limited by our inability to confidently trace the spread of resistance determinants to unrelated bacterial hosts. Whole-genome sequence comparison is useful for identifying CRE clonal transmission and outbreaks, but high-frequency horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of carbapenem resistance genes and subsequent genome rearrangement complicate tracing the local persistence and mobilization of these genes across organisms. METHODS: To overcome this limitation, we developed a new approach to identify recent HGT of large, near-identical plasmid segments across species boundaries, which also allowed us to overcome technical challenges with genome assembly. We applied this to complete and near-complete genome assemblies to examine the local spread of CRE in a systematic, prospective collection of all CRE, as well as time- and species-matched carbapenem-susceptible Enterobacterales, isolated from patients from four US hospitals over nearly 5 years. RESULTS: Our CRE collection comprised a diverse range of species, lineages, and carbapenem resistance mechanisms, many of which were encoded on a variety of promiscuous plasmid types. We found and quantified rearrangement, persistence, and repeated transfer of plasmid segments, including those harboring carbapenemases, between organisms over multiple years. Some plasmid segments were found to be strongly associated with specific locales, thus representing geographic signatures that make it possible to trace recent and localized HGT events. Functional analysis of these signatures revealed genes commonly found in plasmids of nosocomial pathogens, such as functions required for plasmid retention and spread, as well survival against a variety of antibiotic and antiseptics common to the hospital environment. CONCLUSIONS: Collectively, the framework we developed provides a clearer, high-resolution picture of the epidemiology of antibiotic resistance importation, spread, and persistence in patients and healthcare networks.

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