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How one strain of MRSA becomes resistant to last-line antibiotic
Date:5/21/2012

killing off competing organisms, CC5 aims to co-exist. This enables it to pick up genes - like the one that encodes vancomycin resistance - from unexpected places. Mixed infections are breeding grounds for antibiotic resistance because they encourage the exchange of genes among very different kinds of organisms.

In roughly the place where these bacteriocin genes are missing is a unique cluster of genes that encode enterotoxins, proteins that attack the human host and, again, could make it easier for mixed populations of bacteria to grow at infection sites.

Finally, CC5 has a mutation in a gene called dprA, which is known to influence the ability to assimilate foreign DNA. The mutation could alter or eliminate the function of dprA in CC5 strains of MRSA, making it amenable to taking up DNA from outside sources.

The sum of all these traits, including the lack of bacteriocin production, the ability to produce enterotoxins, and mutations in the ability to assimilate foreign DNA, is a lineage of S. aureus that is optimized to grow in exactly the types of multi-species infections where gene transfer could occur.

This makes CC5 a dangerous organism in hospitals, say the authors. In hospitals, pathogens are under continuous pressure from antibiotics to survive and evolve, and CC5 isolates appear to be very well adapted to succeed by acquiring new resistances. Frequent use of antibiotics in hospital patients could select for strains like CC5 that have an enhanced ability to co-exist with bacteria that provide genes for antibiotic resistance.


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Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

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