Impact of insertion sequences and recombination on the population structure of Staphylococcus haemolyticus

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Staphylococcus haemolyticus is one of the most common pathogens associated with medical-device related infections, but its molecular epidemiology is poorly explored. In the current study, we aimed to better understand the genetic mechanisms contributing to S. haemolyticus diversity in the hospital environment and their impact on the population structure and clinical relevant phenotypic traits. The analysis of a representative S. haemolyticus collection by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) has identified a single highly prevalent and diverse genetic lineage of nosocomial S. haemolyticus clonal complex (CC) 29 accounting for 91% of the collection of isolates disseminated worldwide. The examination of the sequence changes at MLST loci during clonal diversification showed that recombination had a higher impact than mutation in shaping the S. haemolyticus population. Also, we ascertained that another mechanism contributing significantly to clonal diversification and adaptation was mediated by insertion sequence (IS) elements. We found that all nosocomial S. haemolyticus, belonging to different STs, were rich in IS1272 copies, as determined by Southern hybridization of macrorestriction patterns. In particular, we observed that the chromosome of a S. haemolyticus strain within CC29 was highly unstable during serial growth in vitro which paralleled with IS1272 transposition events and changes in clinically relevant phenotypic traits namely, mannitol fermentation, susceptibility to beta-lactams, biofilm formation and hemolysis. Our results suggest that recombination and IS transposition might be a strategy of adaptation, evolution and pathogenicity of the major S. haemolyticus prevalent lineage in the hospital environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0156653
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


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