The Molecular Epidemiology of the Highly Virulent ST93 Australian Community Staphylococcus aureus Strain
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In Australia the PVL - positive ST93-IV [2B], colloquially known as ‘‘Queensland CA-MRSA’’ has become the dominant CA-MRSA clone. First described in the early 2000s, ST93-IV [2B] is associated with skin and severe invasive infections including necrotizing pneumonia. A singleton by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) eBURST analysis ST93 is distinct from other S aureus clones. To determine if the increased prevalence of ST93-IV [2B] is due to the widespread transmission of a single strain of ST93-IV [2B] the genetic relatedness of 58 S. aureus ST93 isolated throughout Australia over an extended period were studied in detail using a variety of molecular methods including pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, spa typing, MLST, microarray DNA, SCCmec typing and dru typing. Identification of the phage harbouring the lukS-PV/lukF-PV Panton Valentine leucocidin genes, detection of allelic variations in lukS-PV/lukF-PV, and quantification of LukF-PV expression was also performed. Although ST93-IV [2B] is known to have an apparent enhanced clinical virulence, the isolates harboured few known virulence determinants. All PVL-positive isolates carried the PVL-encoding phage WSa2USA and the lukS-PV/lukF-PV genes had the same R variant SNP profile. The isolates produced similar expression levels of LukF-PV. Although multiple rearrangements of the spa sequence have occurred, the core genome in ST93 is very stable.The emergence of ST93-MRSA is due to independent acquisitions of different dru-defined type IV and type V SCCmec elements in several spa-defined ST93-MSSA backgrounds. Rearrangement of the spa sequence in ST93-MRSA has subsequently occurred in some of these strains. Although multiple ST93-MRSA strains were characterised, little genetic diversity was identified for most isolates, with PVLpositive ST93-IVa [2B]-t202-dt10 predominant across Australia. Whether ST93-IVa [2B] t202-dt10 arose from one PVL-positive ST93-MSSA-t202, or by independent acquisitions of SCCmec-IVa [2B]-dt10 into multiple PVL-positive ST93-MSSA-t202 strains is not known.
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