Evolutionary origin of the staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec)

Joana Rolo, Peder Worning, Jesper Boye Nielsen, Rory Bowden, Ons Bouchami, Peter Panduro Damborg, Luca Guardabassi, Vincent Perreten, Alexander Tomasz, Henrik Westh, Hermínia de Lencastre, Maria Miragaia

59 Citationer (Scopus)


Several lines of evidence indicate that the most primitive staphylococcal species, the Staphylococcus sciuri group, were involved in the first stages of evolution of SCCmec - the genetic element carrying the β-lactam resistance gene mecA. However, many steps are still missing from this evolutionary history. In particular, it is not known how mecA was incorporated into the mobile element SCC prior to dissemination among Staphylococcus aureus and other pathogenic staphylococcal species.To gain insights into the possible contribution of several species of the Staphylococcussciuri group to the assembly of SCCmec, we sequenced the genomes of 106 isolates, comprising S. sciuri (n=76), Staphylococcus vitulinus (n=18) and Staphylococcus fleurettii (n=12) from animal and human sources, and characterized the native location of mecA and the SCC insertion site using a variety of comparative genomic approaches. Moreover, we performed a SNP analysis of the genomes, in order to understand SCCmec evolution in relation to phylogeny.We found that each of three species of the S. sciuri group contributed to the evolution of SCCmec: S. vitulinus and S. fleurettii to the assembly of the mec complex, and S. sciuri most likely provided the mobile element in which mecA was later incorporated. We hypothesize that an ancestral SCCmec III cassette (an element carried by one of the most epidemic methicillin-resistant S. aureus clones), originated in S. sciuri possibly by a recombination event in a human host or a human-created environment and later was transferred to S. aureus.

TidsskriftAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)1-16
StatusUdgivet - 1 jun. 2017


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