Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), especially Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing K. pneumoniae, pose an urgent threat in health facilities in the United States and worldwide. K. pneumoniae isolates classified as sequence type 258 (ST258) by multilocus sequence typing are largely responsible for the global spread of KPC. A recent comparative genome study revealed that ST258 K. pneumoniae strains are two distinct genetic clades; however, the molecular origin of ST258 largely remains unknown, and our understanding of the evolution of the two genetic clades is incomplete. Here we compared the genetic structures and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) distributions in the core genomes of strains from two ST258 clades and other STs (ST11, ST442, and ST42). We identified an ~1.1-Mbp region on ST258 genomes that is homogeneous to that of ST442, while the rest of the ST258 genome resembles that of ST11. Our results suggest ST258 is a hybrid clone-80% of the genome originated from ST11-like strains and 20% from ST442-like strains. Meanwhile, we sequenced an ST42 strain that carries the same K-antigen-encoding capsule polysaccharide biosynthesis gene (cps) region as ST258 clade I strains. Comparison of the cps-harboring regions between the ST42 and ST258 strains (clades I and II) suggests the ST258 clade I strains evolved from a clade II strain as a result of cps region replacement. Our findings unravel the molecular evolution history of ST258 strains, an important first step toward the development of diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccine strategies to combat infections caused by multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae.
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