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Abstract

is a major human pathogen where the emergence of antibiotic resistant lineages, such as methicillin-resistant (MRSA), is a major health concern. While some MRSA lineages are restricted to the healthcare setting, the epidemiology of MRSA is changing globally, with the rise of specific lineages causing disease in healthy people in the community. In the past two decades, community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) has emerged as a clinically important and virulent pathogen associated with serious skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTI). These infections are primarily cytotoxin driven, leading to the suggestion that hypervirulent lineages/multi-locus sequence types (STs) exist. To examine this, we compared the cytotoxicity of 475 MRSA isolates representing five major MRSA STs (ST22, ST93, ST8, ST239 and ST36) by employing a monocyte-macrophage THP-1 cell line as a surrogate for measuring gross cytotoxicity. We demonstrate that while certain MRSA STs contain highly toxic isolates, there is such variability within lineages to suggest that this aspect of virulence should not be inferred from the genotype of any given isolate. Furthermore, by interrogating the accessory gene regulator (Agr) sequences in this collection we identified several Agr mutations that were associated with reduced cytotoxicity. Interestingly, the majority of isolates that were attenuated in cytotoxin production contained no mutations in the locus, indicating a role of other undefined genes in toxin regulation.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article was made open access via a Publish and Read agreement between the Microbiology Society and the corresponding author’s institution.
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2021-12-20
2022-01-28
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