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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2003 Nov;47(11):3574-9.

Related clones containing SCCmec type IV predominate among clinically significant Staphylococcus epidermidis isolates.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23292, USA.


SCCmec is a mobile genetic element that carries the gene (mecA) mediating methicillin resistance in staphylococci. For Staphylococcus aureus, four SCCmec types have been described, one (type IV) of which has been associated with newly identified community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus. However, the distribution of SCCmec types among S. epidermidis is not known. SCCmec typing of a collection of 44 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis (MRSE) isolates recovered between 1973 and 1983 from the blood of patients with prosthetic valve endocarditis (PVE) was performed by PCR amplification of key genetic elements (mecA, mecI, IS1272, and ccrAB). Of the 44 isolates, 1 (2%) harbored SCCmec type I, 15 (34%) harbored type II, 12 (28%) harbored type III, and 16 (36%) harbored type IV. The complete nucleotide sequence of SCCmec type IV was determined for 16 isolates and found to be identical in size (24 kb) and 98% homologous to DNA sequences published for S. aureus. Type IV SCCmec was also common (5 of 10 isolates) among a geographically dispersed collection of 10 recent (1998 to 2001) S. epidermidis bloodstream isolates. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) (using the same seven genes presently employed for S. aureus MLST) of these MRSE isolates and of 10 additional recent geographically dispersed methicillin-susceptible isolates demonstrated that all 16 PVE isolates and 2 of 5 recent isolates harboring type IV SCCmec were in three related clonal groups. All three MSSE PVE isolates recovered from patients between 1976 and 1979 were in the same clonal groups as type IV SCCmec MRSE isolates. These data support the hypothesis of intra- and interspecies transfer of type IV SCCmec and suggest that there are clonal associations in S. epidermidis that correlate with SCCmec type.

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