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J Infect Dis. 1991 Nov;164(5):883-7.

In vivo stability of heterogeneous expression classes in clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant staphylococci.

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Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021.


To define the stability of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in vivo, 22 isolates collected at one New York institution in 1989 and 1990 were studied. All 22 belonged to one of two distinct methicillin-resistant phenotypes (class 3 or 2), which were precisely identified as belonging to two distinct genotypes. Genotypic classification was based on restriction analysis of chromosomal DNA with EcoRI and HindIII and Southern analysis of ClaI digests using two DNA probes. One was specific for the mec gene; the other was specific for transposon Tn554. The findings suggest that the MRSA isolates studied were representative of two genetically distinct MRSA "clones," each with a unique strain-specific methicillin-resistant phenotype that is stable under the conditions of invasive disease, carriage, and spread from patient to patient.

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