Diversity of prophages in dominant Staphylococcus aureus clonal lineages

  • Goerke C
  • Pantucek R
  • Holtfreter S
 et al. 
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Temperate bacteriophages play an important role in the pathogenicity of Staphylococcus aureus, for instance, by mediating the horizontal gene transfer of virulence factors. Here we established a classification scheme for staphylococcal prophages of the major Siphoviridae family based on integrase gene polymorphism. Seventy-one published genome sequences of staphylococcal phages were clustered into distinct integrase groups which were related to the chromosomal integration site and to the encoded virulence gene content. Analysis of three marker modules (lysogeny, tail, and lysis) for phage functional units revealed that these phages exhibit different degrees of genome mosaicism. The prevalence of prophages in a representative S. aureus strain collection consisting of 386 isolates of diverse origin was determined. By linking the phage content to dominant S. aureus clonal complexes we could show that the distribution of bacteriophages varied remarkably between lineages, indicating restriction-based barriers. A comparison of colonizing and invasive S. aureus strain populations revealed that hlb-converting phages were significantly more frequent in colonizing strains.

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  • Christiane Goerke

  • Roman Pantucek

  • Silva Holtfreter

  • Berit Schulte

  • Manuel Zink

  • Dorothee Grumann

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