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Abstract

This study characterized high-quality whole-genome sequences of a sentinel, surveillance-based collection of 1710 (GC) isolates from 2019 collected in the USA as part of the Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project (GISP). It aims to provide a detailed report of strain diversity, phylogenetic relationships and resistance determinant profiles associated with reduced susceptibilities to antibiotics of concern. The 1710 isolates represented 164 multilocus sequence types and 21 predominant phylogenetic clades. Common genomic determinants defined most strains’ phenotypic, reduced susceptibility to current and historic antibiotics (e.g. plasmid for penicillin, plasmid for tetracycline, for ciprofloxacin, 23S rRNA and/or mosaic operon for azithromycin, and mosaic for cefixime and ceftriaxone). The most predominant phylogenetic clade accounted for 21 % of the isolates, included a majority of the isolates with low-level elevated MICs to azithromycin (2.0 µg ml), carried a mosaic operon and variants in PorB, and showed expansion with respect to data previously reported from 2018. The second largest clade predominantly carried the GyrA S91F variant, was largely ciprofloxacin resistant (MIC ≥1.0 µg ml), and showed significant expansion with respect to 2018. Overall, a low proportion of isolates had medium- to high-level elevated MIC to azithromycin ((≥4.0 µg ml), based on C2611T or A2059G 23S rRNA variants). One isolate carried the 60.001 allele resulting in elevated MICs to cefixime and ceftriaxone of 1.0 µg ml. This high-resolution snapshot of genetic profiles of 1710 GC sequences, through a comparison with 2018 data (1479 GC sequences) within the sentinel system, highlights change in proportions and expansion of select GC strains and the associated genetic mechanisms of resistance. The knowledge gained through molecular surveillance may support rapid identification of outbreaks of concern. Continued monitoring may inform public health responses to limit the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
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2023-05-12
2024-06-13
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