The prevalence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE) in the Arabian Peninsula is predicted to be high, as suggested from published case reports. Of particular concern, is carbapenem-resistant E. coli (CR-EC), due to the importance of this species as a community pathogen. Herein, we conducted a comprehensive molecular characterization of putative CR-EC strains from Oman. We aim to establish a baseline for future molecular monitoring. We performed whole-genome sequencing (WGS) for 35 putative CR-EC. Isolates were obtained from patients at multiple centers in 2015. Genetic relatedness was investigated using several typing approaches such as MLST, SNP calling, phylogroup and CRISPR typing. Maxiuium likelihood SNP-tree was performed by RAxML after variant calling and removal of recombination regions with Snippy and Gubbins, respectively. Resistance genes, plasmid replicon types, virulence genes, and prophage were also characterised. The online databases CGE, CRISPRcasFinder, Phaster and EnteroBase were used for the in silico analyses. Screening for mutations in genes regulating the expression of porins and efflux pump as well as mutations lead to fluoroquinolones resistance were performed with CLC Genomics Workbench. The genetic diversity suggests a polyclonal population structure with 21 sequence types (ST), of which ST38 being the most prevalent (11%). SNPs analysis revealed possible transmission episodes. Whereas, CRISPR typing helped to spot outlier strains belonged to phylogroups other than B2 which was CRISPRfree. The virulent phylogroups B2 and D were detected in 4 and 9 isolates, respectively. In some strains bacteriophages acted as vectors for virulence genes. Regarding resistance to β-lactam, 22 were carbapenemase producers, 3 carbapenem non-susceptible but carbapenemase- negative, 9 resistant to expanded-spectrum cephalosporins, and one isolate with susceptibility to cephalosporins and carbapenems. Thirteen out of the 22 (59%) carbapenemase- producing isolates were NDM and 7 (23%) were OXA-48-like which mirrors the situation in Indian subcontinent. Two isolates co-produced NDM and OXA-48-like enzymes. In total, 80% (28/35) were CTX-M-15 producers and 23% (8/35) featured AmpC. The high-risk subclones ST131-H30Rx/C2, ST410-H24RxC and ST1193-H64RxC were detected, the latter associated with NDM. To our knowledge, this is the first report of ST1193-H64Rx subclone with NDM. In conclusion, strains showed polyclonal population structure with OXA-48 and NDM as the only carbapenemases in CR-EC from Oman. We detected the high-risk subclone ST131-H30Rx/C2, ST410-H24RxC and ST1193-H64RxC. The latter was reported with carbapenemase gene for the first time here.
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