High prevalence of the arginine catabolic mobile element in carriage isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis

Barbier, François ; Lebeaux, David ; Hernandez, David ; Delannoy, Anne-Sophie ; Caro, Valérie ; François, Patrice ; Schrenzel, Jacques ; Ruppé, Etienne ; Gaillard, Kevin ; Wolff, Michel ; Brisse, Sylvain ; Andremont, Antoine ; Ruimy, Raymond

In: Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2011, vol. 66, no. 1, p. 29-36

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    Background The arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME) associated with staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) in the USA300 clone of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus enhances its fitness and ability to colonize the host. Staphylococcus epidermidis may act as a reservoir of ACME for S. aureus. We assessed the diffusion of ACME in methicillin-resistant S. epidermidis (MRSE) isolates colonizing outpatients. Methods Seventy-eight MRSE strains isolated in outpatients from five countries were characterized by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and SCCmec typing and screened for the arcA and opp3AB markers of ACME. ACME-arcA and ACME-opp3AB were sequenced. ACME type I from MRSE and USA300 were compared by long-range PCR (LR-PCR). Results Fifty-three (67.9%) MRSE strains carried an ACME element, including 19 (24.4%), 32 (41.0%) and 2 (2.6%) with ACME type I (arcA+/opp3AB+), II (arcA+/opp3AB−) and III (arcA−/opp3AB+), respectively. The prevalence of ACME did not differ between clonal complex 2 (42/60 strains) and other sequence types (11/18 strains, P = 0.7), with MLST data suggesting frequent intraspecies acquisition. ACME-arcA sequences were highly conserved, whereas ACME-opp3AB displayed 11 distinct allotypes. ACME was found in 14/29, 9/11 and 30/37 strains with type IV, type V and non-typeable SCCmec, respectively (P = 0.01). ACME was more frequently associated with ccrC than with ccrAB2 (82.4% versus 60.0%, P = 0.048). LR-PCR indicated structural homologies of ACME I between MRSE and USA300. Conclusions ACME is widely disseminated in MRSE strains colonizing outpatients and may contribute to their spread in a community environment with low antibiotic exposure, as suggested for USA300