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J Clin Microbiol. 2008 Oct;46(10):3246-58. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00136-08. Epub 2008 Aug 6.

Two different Panton-Valentine leukocidin phage lineages predominate in Japan.

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Department of Bacteriology, Juntendo University, Hongo 2-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8421, Japan.


We determined the entire nucleotide sequence of phiSa2958-carrying Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) gene, which was lysogenized in a sequence type 5 staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) type II strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Based on the nucleotide sequences of PVL phages, we developed PCRs to discriminate among five PVL phages, with a preliminary classification into two morphological groups (elongated-head type and icosahedral-head type) with four PCRs, including two PCRs for identifying the gene lineage between lukS-PV and the tail gene. The phages were then classified into five types by four PCRs identifying each phage-specific structure. With these PCRs, we examined the PVL phage types of 67 MRSA strains isolated in Japan from 1979 through 1985 and since 2000 and found that two morphologically distinct phages were predominant in Japan. The icosahedral-head-type phage, represented by the phi108PVL type, was identified for 39 of 53 strains isolated from 1979 through 1985. Of 26 other Japanese isolates, 25 belonged either definitively or presumably to elongated-head types as follows: 3 belonged to the phiSa2958 type; 8 were determined to belong to an elongated-head type, but a determination of greater specificity was not made; and 14 belonged to a phiSa2958-like phage of unknown type. We induced prophages by treatment with mitomycin C from six strains of the phiSa2958 type or of phiSa2958-like unknown-type phages; five of six strains carried intact PVL-carrying phages, which can infect other S. aureus strains and might generate novel PVL-positive strains of S. aureus. That various SCCmec elements were carried by different strains of the same phage type suggests that S. aureus strains might independently acquire PVL phages before they acquire various SCCmec elements.

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