Whole‐genome comparison of meticillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus CC22 SCCmecIV from people and their in‐contact pets
Meticillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections remain important medical and veterinary challenges. The MRSA isolated from dogs and cats typically belong to dominant hospital‐associated clones, in the UK mostly EMRSA‐15 (CC22 SCCmecIV), suggesting original human‐to‐animal transmission. Nevertheless, little is known about host‐specific genetic variation within the same S. aureus lineage.
To identify host‐specific variation amongst MRSA CC22 SCCmecIV by comparing isolates from pets with those from in‐contact humans using whole‐genome microarray.
Six pairs of MRSA CC22 SCCmecIV from human carriers (owners and veterinary staff) and their respective infected in‐contact pets were compared using a 62‐strain whole‐genome S. aureus microarray (SAM‐62). The presence of putative host‐specific genes was subsequently determined in a larger number of human (n = 47) and pet isolates (n = 93) by PCR screening.
Variation in mobile genetic elements (MGEs) occurred frequently and appeared largely independent of host and in‐contact pair. A plasmid (SAP078A) encoding heavy‐metal resistance genes (arsR, arsA, cadA, cadC, mco and copB) was found in three of six human and none of six animal isolates. However, only two of four resistance genes were associated with human hosts (P = 0.015 for arsA and cadA).
The variation found amongst MGEs highlights that genetic adaptation in MRSA continues. However, host‐specific MGEs were not detected, which supports the hypothesis that pets may not be natural hosts of MRSA CC22 and emphasizes that rigorous hygiene measures are critical to prevent contamination and infection of dogs and cats. The host specificity of individual heavy‐metal resistance genes warrants further investigation into different selection pressures in humans and animals.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: October 1, 2013