Urinary tract infections (UTI) caused by uropathogenic Escherichia coli are one of the most common forms of human disease. In this study, the effect of the presence of newly acquired antibiotic resistance genes on biofilm formation of UTI-associated E. coli strains was examined. Two clinical UTI-associated E. coli strains (SMC18 and SMC20) carrying different combinations of virulence genes were transformed with pGEM-T, pGEM-T::KmΔAmp, or pGEM-T::Km to construct ampicillin-resistant (Km(S)Amp(R)), kanamycin-resistant (Km(R)Amp(S)), or ampicillin- and kanamycin-resistant (Km(R)Amp(R)) strains. Transformed and wild-type strains were characterized for biofilm formation, bacterial surface hydrophobicity, auto-aggregation, morphology, and attachment to abiotic surfaces. Transformation with a plasmid carrying an ampicillin resistance gene alone decreased (p < 0.05) biofilm formation by SMC18 (8 virulence marker genes) but increased (p < 0.05) biofilm formation by SMC20 (5 virulence marker genes). On the other hand, transformation with a plasmid carrying a kanamycin resistance gene alone or both ampicillin and kanamycin resistance genes resulted in a decrease (p < 0.05) in biofilm formation by SMC18 but did not affect (p > 0.05) the biofilm formation by SMC20. Our results suggest that transformation of UTI-associated E. coli with plasmids carrying different antibiotic resistance gene(s) had a significant impact on biofilm formation and that these effects were both strain dependent and varied between different antibiotics.
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