Characterisation and Molecular Analysis of an Unusual Chimeric Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Strain and its Bacteriophages

in: Frontiers in Genetics (2021)
Burgold-Voigt, Sindy; Monecke, Stefan; Simbeck, Alexandra; Holzmann, Thomas; Kieninger, Bärbel; Liebler-Tenorio, Elisabeth M.; Braun, Sascha D.; Collatz, Maximilian; Diezel, Celia; Müller, Elke; Schneider-Brachert, Wulf; Ehricht, Ralf
In the context of microarray-based epidemiological typing of the clonal organism Staphylococcus aureus/MRSA, a strain was identified that did not belong to known clonal complexes. Themolecular analysis bymicroarray-based typing yielded signals suggesting that it was a mosaic or hybrid strain of two lineages. To verify this result, the isolate was sequenced with both, short-read Illumina and long-read Nanopore technologies and analysed in detail. This supported the hypothesis that the genome of this strain, ST6610-MRSA-IVg comprised of segments originating from two different clonal complexes (CC). While the backbone of the strain’s genome, i.e., roughly 2 megabases, belongs to CC8, a continuous insert of 894 kb (approx. 30% of the genome) originated from CC140. Beside core genomic markers in the normal succession and orientation, this insert also included the mecA gene, coding for PbP2a and causing methicillin resistance, localised on an SCCmec IVg element. This particular SCCmec type was also previously observed in CC140 MRSA from African countries. A second conspicuous observation was the presence of the trimethoprim resistance gene dfrG within on a prophage that occupied an attachment site normally used by Panton-Valentine Leucocidin phages. This observation could indicate a role of large-scale chromosomal recombination in the evolution of S. aureus as well as a role of phages in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes.

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