Shuffling of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) in successful healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA).

Lindsay, JA; Knight, GM; Budd, EL; McCarthy, AJ; (2012) Shuffling of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) in successful healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). Mobile genetic elements, 2 (5). pp. 239-243. ISSN 2159-2543 DOI:

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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) CC22 SCCmecIV is a successful hospital-associated (HA-) MRSA, widespread throughout the world, and now the dominant clone in UK hospitals. We have recently shown that MRSA CC22 is a particularly fit clone, and it rose to dominance in a UK hospital at the same time as it began acquiring an increased range of antibiotic resistances. These resistances were not accumulated by individual CC22 isolates, but appear to shuffle frequently between isolates of the MRSA CC22 population. Resistances are often encoded on mobile genetic elements (MGEs) that include plasmids, transposons, bacteriophage and S. aureus pathogenicity islands (SaPIs). Using multi-strain whole genome microarrays, we show that there is enormous diversity of MGE carried within a MRSA CC22 SCCmecIV population, even among isolates from the same hospital and time period. MGE profiles were so variable that they could be used to track the spread of variant isolates within the hospital. We exploited this to show that the majority of patients colonised with MRSA at hospital admission that subsequently became infected were infected with their own colonising isolate. Our studies reveal MGE spread, stability, selection and clonal adaptation to the healthcare setting may be key to the success of HA-MRSA clones, presumably by allowing rapid adaptation to antibiotic exposure and new hosts.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Research Centre: Antimicrobial Resistance Centre (AMR)
PubMed ID: 23446976


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