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Role of Mobile Genetic Elements in the Spread of Antimicrobial Drug Resistance

Final Report Summary - DRESP2 (Role of Mobile Genetic Elements in the Spread of Antimicrobial Drug Resistance)

Mobile DNA provides a major contribution to the spread of antimicrobial resistance, by recruiting new resistance genes in bacterial pathogens and facilitating their horizontal spread. While much is known about individual resistance genes and mechanisms, the nature of the mobile elements and their transfer mechanisms have been clarified only in few cases, and very little is known about their molecular epidemiology. A comprehensive understanding of these aspects could provide a significant breakthrough toward combating dissemination of resistance determinants. The DRESP project aimed at investigating these aspects, focussing on few major families of genetic elements that carry a number of important and emerging resistance determinants:

i) the double resolvase elements of gram-positive cocci
ii) the conjugative transposons
iii) the integrons, and
(iv) plasmids which are the principal carrier for mobile and non mobile elements.

The general objectives of DRESP were:
a) to investigate the molecular epidemiology of the selected families of mobile elements in clinical and environmental situations; and
b) to carry out structural and functional analysis of these genetic elements to elucidate transfer mechanisms and their regulation, and to identify possible common molecular themes underlying these functions.

During the progress of the DRESP2 project an exceptional amount of data were produced and made available to the scientific community by publication in scientific journals and books and through the project web page. Data range from genomics, to epidemiology, nomenclature and the molecular function of mobile elements. The DRESP2 project produced so far over 120 publications acknowledging specifically this funding source. Key contributions in this extensive list of data are the description and application of new techniques for molecular replicon typing of plasmids and the description of antibiotics as signalling agents.

The value of the results of the DRESP proposal, including licensable tools for diagnosis and public health monitoring, will not be restricted to the elements studied, but are expected to add fundamental knowledge to the field of study encompassing all mobile genetic elements and on antimicrobial resistance spread in general.

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