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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30394. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030394. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Molecular typing and phenotype characterization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates from blood in Taiwan.

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  • 1Graduate Institute of Medical Science, National Defense Medical Center and Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.



Staphylococcus aureus causes a variety of severe infections such as bacteremia and sepsis. At present, 60-80% of S. aureus isolates from Taiwan are methicillin resistant (MRSA). It has been shown that certain MRSA clones circulate worldwide. The goals of this study were to identify MRSA clones in Taiwan and to correlate the molecular types of isolates with their phenotypes.


A total of 157 MRSA isolates from bacteremic patients were collected from nine medical centers. They were typed based on polymorphisms in agr, SCCmec, MLST, spa, and dru. Phenotypes characterized included Panton-Valentine leucocidin (pvl), inducible macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin B resistance (MLSBi), vancomycin (VA) and daptomycin (DAP) minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC), and superantigenic toxin gene profiles. Difference between two consecutive samples was determined by Mann-Whitney-U test, and difference between two categorical variables was determined by Fisher's exact test.


Four major MRSA clone complexes CC1, CC5, CC8, and CC59 were found, including 4 CC1, 9 CC5, 111 CC8, and 28 CC59 isolates. These clones had the following molecular types: CC1: SCCmecIV and ST573; CC5: SCCmecII and ST5; CC8: SCCmecIII, ST239, and ST241, and CC59: SCCmecIV, SCCmecV(T), ST59, and ST338. The toxin gene profiles of these clones were CC1: sec-seg-(sei)-sell-selm-(seln)-selo; CC5: sec-seg-sei-sell-selm-(seln)-selp-tst1; CC8: sea-selk-selq, and CC59: seb-selk-selq. Most isolates with SCCmecV(T), ST59, spat437, and dru11 types were pvl(+) (13 isolates), while multidrug resistance (≥4 antimicrobials) were associated with SCCmecIII, ST239, spa t037, agrI, and dru14 (119 isolates) (p<0.001). One hundred and twenty four isolates with the following molecular types had higher VA MIC: SCCmecII and SCCmecIII; ST5, ST239, and ST241; spa t002, t037, and t421; dru4, dru10, dru12, dru13, and dru14 (p<0.05). No particular molecular types were found to be associated with MLSBi phenotype.


Four major MRSA clone complexes were found in Taiwan. Further studies are needed to delineate the evolution of MRSA isolates.

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