Golparian D, Sánchez-Busó L, Cole M, Unemo M
J. Antimicrob. Chemother. 76 (4) 940-944 [2021-03-12; online 2021-01-08]
Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Neisseria gonorrhoeae, supported by molecular typing, ideally through genome sequencing, is imperative. We defined N. gonorrhoeae Sequence Typing for Antimicrobial Resistance (NG-STAR) clonal complexes (CCs) and validated their usefulness in gonococcal AMR surveillance. All NG-STAR alleles and STs available in the public database (https://ngstar.canada.ca/) were analysed using PHYLOViZ 2.0 to define CCs according to the closest founder ST with ≥5 identical alleles and founding ST with the highest number of links. The published 2013 European gonococcal dataset (n = 1054), the 2016 WHO reference strain panel (n = 14) and N. gonorrhoeae isolates with ceftriaxone resistance determinant penA-60.001 (n = 7) from several countries were used for validation. The majority of the isolates (n = 1063) were designated to 71 CCs. The most common CC was CC90 (n = 194), followed by CC63 (n = 166), CC139 (n = 73), CC158 (n = 73) and CC127 (n = 62). CC90 included isolates belonging to the internationally spread MDR clone N. gonorrhoeae Multi-Antigen Sequence Typing (NG-MAST) G1407 (predominantly MLST ST1901). The ceftriaxone-resistant isolates with penA-60.001 (n = 7) belonged to CC73 or STs linking between CC90 and CC73 (ST233 and ST1133). Phylogenomic analysis revealed that NG-STAR CCs more appropriately correlated to phylogenomic AMR clusters compared with MLST STs, NG-MAST STs, NG-MAST genogroups and NG-STAR STs. NG-STAR CCs: are consistent with the gonococcal genome phylogeny; allow rapid visualizations with limited computational requirements; provide a simple, reproducible and portable nomenclature (for WGS and conventional Sanger sequencing data); and predict AMR lineages. Phenotypic AMR surveillance, supplemented with WGS, is imperative and NG-STAR CCs can effectively support this.