Activity of cefepime/zidebactam against MDR Escherichia coli isolates harbouring a novel mechanism of resistance based on four-amino-acid inserts in PBP3

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy


BACKGROUND: Recent reports reveal the emergence of Escherichia coli isolates harbouring a novel resistance mechanism based on four-amino-acid inserts in PBP3. These organisms concomitantly expressed ESBLs or/and serine-/metallo-carbapenemases and were phenotypically detected by elevated aztreonam/avibactam MICs.

OBJECTIVES: The in vitro activities of the investigational antibiotic cefepime/zidebactam and approved antibiotics (ceftazidime/avibactam, ceftolozane/tazobactam, imipenem/relebactam and others) were determined against E. coli isolates harbouring four-amino-acid inserts in PBP3.

METHODS: Whole-genome sequenced E. coli isolates (n = 89) collected from a large tertiary care hospital in Southern India (n = 64) and from 12 tertiary care hospitals located across India (n = 25) during 2016-18, showing aztreonam/avibactam MICs ≥1 mg/L (≥4 times the aztreonam epidemiological cut-off) were included in this study. The MICs of antibiotics were determined using the reference broth microdilution method.

RESULTS: Four-amino-acid inserts [YRIK (n = 30) and YRIN (n = 53)] were found in 83/89 isolates. Among 83 isolates, 65 carried carbapenemase genes [blaNDM (n = 39), blaOXA-48-like (n = 11) and blaNDM + blaOXA-48-like (n = 15)] and 18 isolates produced ESBLs/class C β-lactamases only. At least 16 unique STs were noted. Cefepime/zidebactam demonstrated potent activity, with all isolates inhibited at ≤1 mg/L. Comparator antibiotics including ceftazidime/avibactam and imipenem/relebactam showed limited activities.

CONCLUSIONS: E. coli isolates concurrently harbouring four-amino-acid inserts in PBP3 and NDM are an emerging therapeutic challenge. Assisted by the PBP2-binding action of zidebactam, the cefepime/zidebactam combination overcomes both target modification (PBP3 insert)- and carbapenemase (NDM)-mediated resistance mechanisms in E. coli.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print