2020-09-08Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.25646/9601
Silence as a way of niche adaptation: mecC-MRSA with variations in the accessory gene regulator (agr) functionality express kaleidoscopic phenotypes
Wieler, Lothar H.
Functionality of the accessory gene regulator (agr) quorum sensing system is an important factor promoting either acute or chronic infections by the notorious opportunistic human and veterinary pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. Spontaneous alterations of the agr system are known to frequently occur in human healthcare-associated S. aureus lineages. However, data on agr integrity and function are sparse regarding other major clonal lineages. Here we report on the agr system functionality and activity level in mecC-carrying methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) of various animal origins (n = 33) obtained in Europe as well as in closely related human isolates (n = 12). Whole genome analysis assigned all isolates to four clonal complexes (CC) with distinct agr types (CC599 agr I, CC49 agr II, CC130 agr III and CC1943 agr IV). Agr functionality was assessed by a combination of phenotypic assays and proteome analysis. In each CC, isolates with varying agr activity levels were detected, including the presence of completely non-functional variants. Genomic comparison of the agr I–IV encoding regions associated these phenotypic differences with variations in the agrA and agrC genes. The genomic changes were detected independently in divergent lineages, suggesting that agr variation might foster viability and adaptation of emerging MRSA lineages to distinct ecological niches.
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