Generation of a vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA) strain by two amino acid exchanges in VraS

Berscheid, Anne ; François, Patrice ; Strittmatter, Axel ; Gottschalk, Gerhard ; Schrenzel, Jacques ; Sass, Peter ; Bierbaum, Gabriele

In: Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2014, vol. 69, no. 12, p. 3190-3198

Add to personal list
    Objectives Staphylococcus aureus is a notorious bacterial pathogen and antibiotic-resistant isolates complicate current treatment strategies. We characterized S. aureus VC40, a laboratory mutant that shows full resistance to glycopeptides (vancomycin and teicoplanin MICs ≥32 mg/L) and daptomycin (MIC = 4 mg/L), to gain deeper insights into the underlying resistance mechanisms. Methods Genomics and transcriptomics were performed to characterize changes that might contribute to development of resistance. The mutations in vraS were reconstituted into a closely related parental background. In addition, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, growth analyses, transmission electron microscopy, lysostaphin-induced lysis and autolysis assays were performed to characterize the phenotype of resistant strains. Results Genome sequencing of strain VC40 revealed 79 mutations in 75 gene loci including genes encoding the histidine kinases VraS and WalK that control cell envelope-related processes. Transcriptomics indicated the increased expression of their respective regulons. Although not reaching the measured MIC for VC40, reconstitution of the L114S and D242G exchanges in VraS(VC40) into the susceptible parental background (S. aureus NCTC 8325) resulted in increased resistance to glycopeptides and daptomycin. The expression of VraS(VC40) led to increased transcription of the cell wall stress stimulon, a thickened cell wall, a decreased growth rate, reduced autolytic activity and increased resistance to lysostaphin-induced lysis in the generated mutant. Conclusions We show that a double mutation of a single gene locus, namely vraS, is sufficient to convert the vancomycin-susceptible strain S. aureus NCTC 8325 into a vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus