Adaptation of Staphylococcus aureus to ruminant and equine hosts involves SaPI-carried variants of von Willebrand factor-binding protein

Authors

  • David Viana,

    1. Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Animal, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (CITA-IVIA), Apdo. 187, 12.400 Segorbe, Castellón, Spain.
    2. Cardenal Herrera-CEU University, 46113 Moncada, Valencia, Spain.
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    • David Viana, José Blanco and María Ángeles Tormo-Más contributed equally to this work.

  • José Blanco,

    1. Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Animal, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (CITA-IVIA), Apdo. 187, 12.400 Segorbe, Castellón, Spain.
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    • David Viana, José Blanco and María Ángeles Tormo-Más contributed equally to this work.

  • María Ángeles Tormo-Más,

    1. Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Animal, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (CITA-IVIA), Apdo. 187, 12.400 Segorbe, Castellón, Spain.
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    • David Viana, José Blanco and María Ángeles Tormo-Más contributed equally to this work.

  • Laura Selva,

    1. Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Animal, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (CITA-IVIA), Apdo. 187, 12.400 Segorbe, Castellón, Spain.
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  • Caitriona M. Guinane,

    1. The Roslin Institute and Centre for Infectious Diseases, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK.
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  • Rafael Baselga,

    1. Exopol, Pol. Rio Gallego D/8, 50840 San Mateo, Zaragoza, Spain.
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  • Juan M. Corpa,

    1. Cardenal Herrera-CEU University, 46113 Moncada, Valencia, Spain.
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  • Íñigo Lasa,

    1. Instituto de Agrobiotecnología, CSIC-Universidad Pública de Navarra, 31006 Pamplona, Navarra, Spain.
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  • Richard P. Novick,

    1. Instituto de Ganadería de Montaña (CSIC-ULE), 24346 Grulleros, León, Spain.
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  • J. Ross Fitzgerald,

    1. The Roslin Institute and Centre for Infectious Diseases, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK.
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  • José R. Penadés

    Corresponding author
    1. Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Animal, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (CITA-IVIA), Apdo. 187, 12.400 Segorbe, Castellón, Spain.
    2. Cardenal Herrera-CEU University, 46113 Moncada, Valencia, Spain.
    3. Instituto de Ganadería de Montaña (CSIC-ULE), 24346 Grulleros, León, Spain.
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E-mail penades_jos@gva.es; Tel. (+34) 964 71 21 66; Fax (+34) 964 71 02 18.

Summary

Staphylococci adapt specifically to various animal hosts by genetically determined mechanisms that are not well understood. One such adaptation involves the ability to coagulate host plasma, by which strains isolated from ruminants or horses can be differentiated from closely related human strains. Here, we report first that this differential coagulation activity is due to animal-specific alleles of the von Willebrand factor-binding protein (vWbp) gene, vwb, and second that these vwb alleles are carried by highly mobile pathogenicity islands, SaPIs. Although all Staphylococcus aureus possess chromosomal vwb as well as coagulase (coa) genes, neither confers species-specific coagulation activity; however, the SaPI-coded vWbps possess a unique N-terminal region specific for the activation of ruminant and equine prothrombin. vWbp-encoding SaPIs are widely distributed among S. aureus strains infecting ruminant or equine hosts, and we have identified and characterized four of these, SaPIbov4, SaPIbov5, SaPIeq1 and SaPIov2, which encode vWbpSbo4, vWbpSbo5, vWbpSeq1 and vWbpSov2 respectively. Moreover, the SaPI-carried vwb genes are regulated differently from the chromosomal vwb genes of the same strains. We suggest that the SaPI-encoded vWbps may represent an important host adaptation mechanism for S. aureus pathogenicity, and therefore that acquisition of vWbp-encoding SaPIs may be determinative for animal specificity.

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