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Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is an important driver for resistance- and virulence factor accumulation in pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.
Here, we have investigated the downstream region of the bacterial chromosomal attachment site (attB) for the staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) element of a commensal mecC-positive Staphylococcus stepanovicii strain (IMT28705; ODD4) with respect to genetic composition and indications of HGT. S. stepanovicii IMT28705 was isolated from a fecal sample of a trapped wild bank vole (Myodes glareolus) during a screening study (National Network on "Rodent-Borne Pathogens") in Germany. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of IMT28705 together with the mecC-negative type strain CM7717 was conducted in order to comparatively investigate the genomic region downstream of attB (GenBank accession no. KR732654 and KR732653).
The bank vole isolate (IMT28705) harbors a mecC gene which shares 99.2% nucleotide (and 98.5% amino acid) sequence identity with mecC of MRSA_LGA251. In addition, the mecC-encoding region harbors the typical blaZ-mecC-mecR1-mecI structure, corresponding with the class E mec complex. While the sequences downstream of attB in both S. stepanovicii isolates (IMT28705 and CM7717) are partitioned by 15 bp direct repeats, further comparison revealed a remarkable low concordance of gene content, indicating a chromosomal "hot spot" for foreign DNA integration and exchange.
Our data highlight the necessity for further research on transmission routes of resistance encoding factors from the environmental and wildlife resistome.