2021 journal article
Identification and Characterization of a Novel Genomic Island Harboring Cadmium and Arsenic Resistance Genes in Listeria welshimeri
Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterial foodborne pathogen responsible for the severe disease listeriosis, frequently exhibits heavy metal resistance. Concurrent resistance to cadmium and arsenic in L. monocytogenes is strongly associated with the 35-kb chromosomal island LGI2. LGI2 has been encountered repeatedly among L. monocytogenes serotype 4b hypervirulent clones but, surprisingly, not among non-pathogenic Listeria spp. Here we describe a novel LGI2 variant, LGI2-3, in two L. welshimeri strains from an urban aquatic environment. Whole genome sequence analysis revealed that the genomes were closely related except for one prophage region and confirmed a chromosomally integrated LGI2-3. It harbored a cystathionine beta-lyase gene previously only encountered in LGI2-1 of L. monocytogenes clonal complex 1 but was otherwise most closely related to LGI2. LGI2-3 harbored a novel cadAC cassette (cadA7C7) that, like LGI2′s cadA4C4, was associated with lower-level tolerance to cadmium (MIC 50 μg/mL) than other cadAC cassettes (MIC ≥ 140 μg/mL). CadA sequence analysis identified two amino acids that may be important for mediating different levels of cadmium tolerance. Our findings clearly demonstrated the potential for LGI2-like islands to be harbored by non-pathogenic Listeria spp. and generate intriguing hypotheses on the genetic diversity mediated by this island and its transfer among Listeria spp.