Identifying virulence determinants of multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae in Galleria mellonella

Sebastian Bruchmann, Theresa Feltwell, Julian Parkhill, Francesca L. Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Infections caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae are a major public health threat. Extensively drug-resistant and even pan-resistant strains have been reported. Understanding K. pneumoniae pathogenesis is hampered by the fact that murine models of infection offer limited resolution for non-hypervirulent strains which cause the majority of infections. The insect Galleria mellonella larva is a widely used alternative model organism for bacterial pathogens. We have performed genome-scale fitness profiling of a multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae ST258 strain during infection of G. mellonella, to determine if this model is suitable for large-scale virulence factor discovery in this pathogen. Our results demonstrated a dominant role for surface polysaccharides in infection, with contributions from siderophores, cell envelope proteins, purine biosynthesis genes and additional genes of unknown function. Comparison with a hypervirulent strain, ATCC 43816, revealed substantial overlap in important infection-related genes, as well as additional putative virulence factors specific to ST258, reflecting strain-dependent fitness effects. Our analysis also identified a role for the metalloregulatory protein NfeR (YqjI) in virulence. Overall, this study offers new insight into the infection fitness landscape of K. pneumoniae, and provides a framework for using the highly flexible and easily scalable G. mellonella infection model to dissect molecular virulence mechanisms of bacterial pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberftab009
Number of pages15
JournalPathogens and Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Galleria mellonella
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • ST258
  • Tn-seq
  • TraDIS


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