Expression characteristics of the plasmid-borne mcr-1 colistin resistance gene

Haifang Zhang, Minhui Miao, Jieting Yan, Min Wang, Yi Wei Tang, Barry N. Kreiswirth, Xia Zhang, Liang Chen, Hong Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The plasmid-encoded colistin resistance gene (mcr-1) has recently been reported in various Gram-negative species. However, the expression profile of mcr-1 remains unknown. Here, we investigated the expression of mcr-1 in various plasmids and bacteria. The mcr-1 expression levels in pMCR1_IncX4 varied from 1.81 × 10-5 to 1.05 × 10-4 (pmol per μg total RNA) in the two K. pneumoniae strains SZ03 and SZ04 (ST25) and the two E. coli strains SZ01 and CDA6 (ST2448 and ST167, respectively). The mcr-1 expression levels of pMCR1_IncI2 in E. coli SZ02 (ST2085) and E. coli BJ13 (ST457) were 5.27 × 10-5 and 2.58 × 10-5, respectively. In addition, the expression of chromosomal mcr-1 in ST156 E. coli BJ10 was 5.49×10-5. Interestingly, after 4μg/ml colistin treatment, mcr-1 in pMCR1_IncX4 increased 2-and 4-fold at 20 and 120 mins, respectively, in all pMCR1_IncX4-harboring strains, except for ST2448 E. coli, which had a lower expression after 20 mins that restored to baseline levels after 120 mins. In contrast, mcr-1 expression of pMCR1_IncI2 in the two E. coli strains (SZ02, BJ13) and the chromosomal mcr-1 in E. coli (BJ10) remained at baseline levels after 20 and 120 mins. In the same genetic background host strain E. coli E600, mcr-1 expression of pMCR1_IncX4 and pMCR1_IncI2 were similar and were decreased after colistin treatment for 20 min. However, mcr-1 in pMCR1_IncX4 was up-regulated after colistin treatment for 120 min, while mcr-1 in pMCR1_IncI2 was down-regulated compared to the untreated control. Our results suggested that mcr-1 has distinct expression profiles on different plasmids, bacterial hosts, and after antibiotic treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107596-107602
Number of pages7
Issue number64
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology


  • Colistin
  • Gene expression
  • Mcr-1
  • Plasmid
  • Regulation


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