Mobile Compensatory Mutations Promote Plasmid Survival

Zwanzig, Martin, Harrison, Ellie, Brockhurst, Michael A, Hall, James PJ ORCID: 0000-0002-4896-4592, Berendonk, Thomas U and Berger, Uta
(2019) Mobile Compensatory Mutations Promote Plasmid Survival. MSYSTEMS, 4 (1). e00186-e00118.

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The global dissemination of plasmids encoding antibiotic resistance represents an urgent issue for human health and society. While the fitness costs for host cells associated with plasmid acquisition are expected to limit plasmid dissemination in the absence of positive selection of plasmid traits, compensatory evolution can reduce this burden. Experimental data suggest that compensatory mutations can be located on either the chromosome or the plasmid, and these are likely to have contrasting effects on plasmid dynamics. Whereas chromosomal mutations are inherited vertically through bacterial fission, plasmid mutations can be inherited both vertically and horizontally and potentially reduce the initial cost of the plasmid in new host cells. Here we show using mathematical models and simulations that the dynamics of plasmids depends critically on the genomic location of the compensatory mutation. We demonstrate that plasmid-located compensatory evolution is better at enhancing plasmid persistence, even when its effects are smaller than those provided by chromosomal compensation. Moreover, either type of compensatory evolution facilitates the survival of resistance plasmids at low drug concentrations. These insights contribute to an improved understanding of the conditions and mechanisms driving the spread and the evolution of antibiotic resistance plasmids. <b>IMPORTANCE</b> Understanding the evolutionary forces that maintain antibiotic resistance genes in a population, especially when antibiotics are not used, is an important problem for human health and society. The most common platform for the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes is conjugative plasmids. Experimental studies showed that mutations located on the plasmid or the bacterial chromosome can reduce the costs plasmids impose on their hosts, resulting in antibiotic resistance plasmids being maintained even in the absence of antibiotics. While chromosomal mutations are only vertically inherited by the daughter cells, plasmid mutations are also provided to bacteria that acquire the plasmid through conjugation. Here we demonstrate how the mode of inheritance of a compensatory mutation crucially influences the ability of plasmids to spread and persist in a bacterial population.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: compensatory evolution, chromosomal mutation, plasmid mutation, plasmid persistence, fitness costs, cost compensation, antibiotic resistance, mathematical modeling, conjugation, horizontal gene transfer
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2019 11:46
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2024 22:28
DOI: 10.1128/mSystems.00186-18
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