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Keywords:

  • Staphylococcus aureus;
  • genomics;
  • diagnostic DNA microarray;
  • virulence factors;
  • molecular typing

Abstract

A DNA microarray was designed for the rapid genotyping of Staphylococcus aureus. It covers 185 distinct genes and about 300 alleles thereof, including species-specific controls, accessory gene regulator (agr) alleles, genes encoding virulence factors, and microbial surface components recognizing adhesive matrix molecules, capsule type-specific genes, as well as resistance determinants. It was used to examine 100 clinical isolates and reference strains. Relationships of leukocidin and ssl/set (staphylococcal superantigen-like or exotoxin-like) genes were reviewed considering these experimental results as well as published sequences. A good correlation of overall hybridization pattern and multilocus sequence typing was found. Analysis of hybridization profiles thus allowed not only to assess virulence and drug resistance, but also to assign isolates to strains and to clonal complexes. Hybridization data were used to construct a split network tree and to analyse relationships between strains. Allelic variations of a number of genes indicate a division of S. aureus into three major branches that are not in accordance to agr group or capsule-type affiliations. Additionally, there are some isolated lineages, such as ST75, ST93, or ST152. These strains produce aberrant hybridization profiles, indicating that only a part of the gene pool of S. aureus has been investigated yet.