The Distribution of Mobile Genetic Elements (MGEs) in MRSA CC398 Is Associated with Both Host and Country

A.J. McCarthy, A.A. Witney, K.A. Gould, A. Moodley, L. Guardabassi, A. Voss, O. Denis, E.M. Broens, J. Hinds, J.A. Lindsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus clonal complex (CC) 398 has emerged from pigs to cause human infections in Europe and North America. We used a new 62-strain S. aureus microarray (SAM-62) to compare genomes of isolates from three geographical areas ( Belgium, Denmark, and Netherlands) to understand how CC398 colonizes different mammalian hosts. The core genomes of 44 pig isolates and 32 isolates from humans did not vary. However, mobile genetic element (MGE) distribution was variable including SCCmec. phi 3 bacteriophage and human specificity genes (chp, sak, scn) were found in invasive human but not pig isolates. SaP15 and putative ruminant specificity gene variants (vwb and scn) were common but not pig specific. Virulence and resistance gene carriage was host associated but country specific. We conclude MGE exchange is frequent in CC398 and greatest among populations in close contact. This feature may help determine epidemiological associations among isolates of the same lineage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1164-1174
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • resistant staphylococcus-aureus
  • factor-binding-protein
  • methicillin-resistant
  • comparative genomics
  • st398
  • pigs
  • infection
  • humans
  • specificity
  • adaptation


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