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J Infect Dis. 2006 Jun 1;193(11):1495-503. Epub 2006 Apr 21.

Roles of 34 virulence genes in the evolution of hospital- and community-associated strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The extent to which the horizontal transfer of virulence genes has contributed to the emergence of contemporary virulent strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospital and community settings is poorly understood.

METHODS:

Epidemiologically well-characterized MRSA isolates collected over 8.5 years were genotyped and tested for the presence of 34 virulence genes.

RESULTS:

Six strain types accounted for 88.2% of all MRSA infections. The evolution of contemporary hospital and community phenotypes within the CC8 and CC30 lineages--2 background genomes that produced historical pandemic MRSA clones--were associated with multiple horizontal acquisitions of virulence genes. The epidemic community phenotype of a CC8 strain, designated ST8:USA300, was linked to the acquisition of staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC)mec type IV, the genes for Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), and the enterotoxin Q and K genes. Similarly, the epidemic community phenotype of a CC30 strain, ST30:USA1100, was linked to the acquisition of SCCmec type IV and the pvl genes. In contrast, the epidemic hospital phenotype of another CC30 strain, ST36:USA200, was associated with the acquisition of SCCmec type II, the enterotoxin A gene, and the toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 gene. The pvl genes appear not to be essential for the evolution OF other community-associated strains of mrsa, including ST8:USA500 and ST59:USA1000.

CONCLUSIONS:

The horizontal transfer of virulence genes, although infrequent, is epidemiologically associated with the emergence of new virulent strains of MRSA.

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PMID:
16652276
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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