• Molecular genetic typing reveals further insights into the diversity of animal-associated Staphylococcus aureus

      Smyth, Cyril James; Hartigan, James Patrick (Society for General Microbiology, 2012-07-02)
      Staphylococcus aureus is an important pathogen of man, but is also able to colonize and cause disease in a wide variety of mammals and birds. An extended multilocus sequencing approach, involving multilocus sequence typing (MLST), sas typing, spa typing and agr typing, was used to examine the molecular diversity of 118 S. aureus isolates recovered from a range of host species and to compare these data with the known diversity of human-derived isolates. MLST revealed that the commonest animal-associated MLST types were ST133, ST5, ST71, ST97, ST126 and ST151. ST133 appears to be an ungulate-animal-specific genotype, as no evidence of ST133 associating with humans has yet been found in the literature. Novel and unique sas alleles were identified in the animal-associated strains that may represent animal-associated sas alleles. However, sas typing exhibited a lower typeability than MLST for the animal strains (91.3 %). Phylogenetic analyses using neighbour-joining and maximum-parsimony trees localized ruminant-associated MLST lineages to both previously identified S. aureus subspecies aureus subgroups, thus explaining the finding of all four agr types within the ruminant-associated strains. S. aureus isolates recovered from chickens and rabbits were genotypically more similar to known human genotypes than the ruminant-associated lineages.
    • Pathogenomic analysis of the common bovine Staphylococcus aureus clone (ET3): emergence of a virulent subtype with potential risk to public health

      Smyth, Cyril James; Hartigan, James Patrick (University of Chicago Press, 2012-07-02)
      A common clone (ET3) of Staphylococcus aureus is responsible for a large proportion of cases of bovine mastitis and occasionally causes zoonotic infections of humans. In the present study, we report the identification of a virulent clonal subtype (ST151) of ET3, which resulted in increased tissue damage and mortality in a mouse model of mastitis. ST151 has undergone extensive diversification in virulence and regulatory‐gene content, including the acquisition of genetic elements encoding toxins not made by other ET3 strains. Furthermore, ST151 had elevated levels of RNAIII and cytolytic toxin–gene expression, consistent with the enhanced virulence observed during experimental infection. Previously, the ST151 clone was shown to be hypersusceptible to the acquisition of vancomycin‐resistance genes from Enterococcus spp. Taken together, these data indicate the emergence of a virulent subtype of the common ET3 clone, which could present an enhanced risk to public health.