Background: The ST8-SCC mec IVa (USA300) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clone can harbour the arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME). The arc gene cluster within the ACME may function as a virulence or strain survival factor. We determined the distribution of the ACME-associated arcA gene among genetically diverse MRSA from around England and Wales. Methods: MRSA isolates (n = 203) of diverse genetic types, referred to the England and Wales Staphylococcus reference laboratory, were tested for the presence of the ACME-arcA gene. ACME-arcA -positive isolates were characterized by toxin gene profiling, PFGE and spa sequence typing. MICs of a range of antimicrobials were also determined. Results: The ACME-arcA gene was detected in 17 isolates. Twelve were related to known ST8-MRSA-SCC mec IVa isolates of the USA300 lineage by pulsotype and were resistant to oxacillin, with variable ciprofloxacin and erythromycin resistance. Outside the USA300 lineage, four of the remaining five ACME-arcA isolates were closely related ST97-MRSA-SCC mec V, Panton-Valentine leucocidin (PVL)-negative, resistant to oxacillin and variously resistant to erythromycin, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, gentamicin, tetracycline and fusidic acid. The remaining isolate was ST1, PVL-positive and resistant to fusidic acid as well as oxacillin. Thirteen out of the 17 isolates were associated with skin and soft tissue infections. Conclusions: The detection of ACME-arcA in diverse MRSA types highlights the mobility of the elements encoding ACME-arcA genes. The diversity of strain types and resistance profiles among ACME-arcA-encoding MRSA is a cause for public-health concern and demands continued surveillance and close monitoring.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Health Protection Agency.