Date Published:2016 Oct
The transfer of DNA between Enterococcus faecium strains has been characterized both by the movement of well-defined genetic elements and by the large-scale transfer of genomic DNA fragments. In this work, we report on the whole-genome analysis of transconjugants resulting from mating events between the vancomycin-resistant E. faecium C68 strain and the vancomycin-susceptible D344RRF strain to discern the mechanism by which the transferred regions enter the recipient chromosome. Vancomycin-resistant transconjugants from five independent matings were analyzed by whole-genome sequencing. In all cases but one, the penicillin binding protein 5 (pbp5) gene and the Tn5382 vancomycin resistance transposon were transferred together and replaced the corresponding pbp5 region of D344RRF. In one instance, Tn5382 inserted independently downstream of the D344RRF pbp5 gene. Single nucleotide variant (SNV) analysis suggested that entry of donor DNA into the recipient chromosome occurred by recombination across regions of homology between donor and recipient chromosomes, rather than through insertion sequence-mediated transposition. The transfer of genomic DNA was also associated with the transfer of C68 plasmid pLRM23 and another putative plasmid. Our data are consistent with the initiation of transfer by cointegration of a transferable plasmid with the donor chromosome, with subsequent circularization of the plasmid-chromosome cointegrant in the donor prior to transfer. Entry into the recipient chromosome most commonly occurred across regions of homology between donor and recipient chromosomes.