Evolutionary Analyses of Staphylococcus aureus Identify Genetic Relationships between Nasal Carriage and Clinical Isolates
Nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus has long been hypothesized to be a major vector for the transmission of virulent strains throughout the community. To address this hypothesis, we have analyzed the relatedness between a cohort of nasal carriage strains and clinical isolates to understand better the genetic conformity therein. To assess the relatedness between nasal carriage and clinical isolates of S. aureus, a genetic association study was conducted using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and typing of the hypervariable regions of clumping factor and fibronectin binding protein genes. At all loci analyzed, genetic associations between both nasal carriage and clinical isolates were observed. Computational analyses of MLST data indicate that nasal carriage and clinical isolates belong to the same genetic clusters (clades), despite differences in sequence type assignments. Genetic analyses of the hypervariable regions from the clumping factor and fibronectin binding protein genes revealed that not only do clinically relevant strains belong to identical genetic lineages as the nasal carriage isolates within our cohort, but they also exhibit 100% sequence similarity within these regions. The findings of this report indicate that strains of S. aureus being carried asymptomatically throughout the community via nasal colonization are genetically related to those responsible for high levels of morbidity and mortality.
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