Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from humans can be broadly separated into 3 groups: healthcare-associated (HA), community-associated (CA), and livestock-associated (LA) MRSA. Initially based on epidemiological features, division into these classes is becoming increasingly problematic. The sequencing of S. aureus genomes has highlighted variations in their accessory components, which likely account for differences in pathogenicity and epidemicity. In particular, temperate bacteriophages have been regarded as key players in bacterial pathogenesis. Bacteriophage-associated Panton-Valentine leukocidin genes (luk-PV) are regarded as epidemiological markers of the CA-MRSA due to their high prevalence in CA strains. This paper describes the development and application of a partial composite S. aureus virulence-associated gene microarray. Epidemic, pandemic, and sporadic lineages of UK HA and CA S. aureus were compared. Phage structural genes linked with CA isolates were identified and in silico analysis revealed these to be correlated with phage serogroup. CA strains predominantly carried a PVL-associated phage either of the A or Fb serogroup, whilst HA strains predominantly carried serogroup Fa or B phages. We speculate that carriage of a serogroup A/Fb PVL-associated phage rather than the luk-PV genes specifically is correlated with CA status.
- Staphylococcus aureus