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J Clin Microbiol. 1992 Aug;30(8):2058-63.

Clonal analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains from intercontinental sources: association of the mec gene with divergent phylogenetic lineages implies dissemination by horizontal transfer and recombination.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.


Genetic relationships among 254 isolates of Staphylococcus aureus resistant to methicillin recovered between 1961 and 1992 from nine countries on four continents were determined by analyzing electrophoretically demonstrable allelic variation at 15 chromosomal enzyme loci. Fifteen distinctive electrophoretic types, marking clones, were identified. The mec gene is harbored by many divergent phylogenetic lineages representing a large portion of the breadth of chromosomal diversity in the species, a result that is interpreted as evidence that multiple episodes of horizontal transfer and recombination have contributed to the spread of this resistance determinant in natural populations. Isolates recovered in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Switzerland, Egypt, and Uganda in the 1960s are of a single multilocus enzyme genotype and probably are progeny of an ancestral methicillin-resistant clone. There is geographic variation in the frequency of recovery of the common methicillin-resistant clones, an observation that may in part explain reported regional differences in natural history correlates of resistant organisms.

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