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Sci Rep. 2015 Apr 20;5:9784. doi: 10.1038/srep09784.

Phage-mediated horizontal transfer of a Staphylococcus aureus virulence-associated genomic island.

Author information

1
1] Department of Basic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi state, MS 39762, United States [2] Department of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and BK21 Program for Veterinary Science, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, South Korea.
2
Department of Basic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi state, MS 39762, United States.
3
Department of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and BK21 Program for Veterinary Science, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, South Korea.
4
Department of Microbiology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, United States.
5
The Roslin Institute and Edinburgh Infectious Diseases, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Midlothian EH259RG, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Staphylococcus aureus is a major pathogen of humans and animals. The capacity of S. aureus to adapt to different host species and tissue types is strongly influenced by the acquisition of mobile genetic elements encoding determinants involved in niche adaptation. The genomic islands νSaα and νSaβ are found in almost all S. aureus strains and are characterized by extensive variation in virulence gene content. However the basis for the diversity and the mechanism underlying mobilization of the genomic islands between strains are unexplained. Here, we demonstrated that the genomic island, νSaβ, encoding an array of virulence factors including staphylococcal superantigens, proteases, and leukotoxins, in addition to bacteriocins, was transferrable in vitro to human and animal strains of multiple S. aureus clones via a resident prophage. The transfer of the νSaβ appears to have been accomplished by multiple conversions of transducing phage particles carrying overlapping segments of the νSaβ. Our findings solve a long-standing mystery regarding the diversification and spread of the genomic island νSaβ, highlighting the central role of bacteriophages in the pathogenic evolution of S. aureus.

PMID:
25891795
PMCID:
PMC4402969
DOI:
10.1038/srep09784
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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