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Prophages and adaptation of Staphylococcus aureus ST398 to the human clinic

Abstract : It has been suggested that prophages in the ST398 S. aureus clone are responsible for expanding ST398's spectrum of action and increasing its ability to cause human infections. We carried out the first characterization of the various prophages carried by 76 ST398 bloodstream infection (BSI) isolates obtained over 9 years of observation. Whole-genome sequencing of 22 representative isolates showed (1) the presence of the φ3-prophage and diverse genetic features typical of animal-associated isolates (i.e., SCCmec XI element, Tn916 transposon and non φ3-prophages) in a majority of BSI isolates, (2) one BSI isolate devoid of the φ3-prophage but otherwise similar to an animal-infecting isolate, (3) 35 prophages carrying numerous genes previously associated with virulence or immune evasion in animal models of staphylococcal infections. The analysis of prophage content in all 76 BSI isolates showed an increasing prevalence of polylysogeny over time. Overall, over the course of the last 10 years, the BSI isolates appear to have acquired increasing numbers of genetic features previously shown to contribute to bacterial adaptation and virulence in animal models of staphylococcal infections. We hypothesize that lysogeny has played a significant role in increasing the ability of the ST398 clone to cause infections in humans. Our findings highlight the risk that the ST398 lineage will increase its threat to public health by continuing to acquire virulence and/or multiple antibiotic-resistance genes from hospital-associated clones of Staphylococcus aureus.
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Seydina M. Diene, Anna Rita Corvaglia, Patrice François, Nathalie van Der Mee-Marquet. Prophages and adaptation of Staphylococcus aureus ST398 to the human clinic. BMC Genomics, 2017, 18 (1), 10 p. ⟨10.1186/s12864-017-3516-x⟩. ⟨hal-01605658⟩

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