Genetic diversity of emerging Panton-Valentine leukocidine/arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME)-positive ST8 SCCmec-IVa meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains and ACME-positive CC5 (ST5/ST764) MRSA strains in Northern Japan

J Med Microbiol. 2013 Dec;62(Pt 12):1852-1863. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.062125-0. Epub 2013 Aug 14.


Panton-Valentine leukocidine (PVL) is a distinctive virulence factor of community-associated meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA), and arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME) is a staphylococcal genomic island that enhances fitness and the ability of bacterial cells to colonize on skin and mucous membranes. ACME is characteristically found in USA300, which is a predominant CA-MRSA clone [sequence type (ST) 8] in the USA and is spreading globally, and has also been detected in non-ST8 MRSA at low frequency. In Japan, spread of MRSA with PVL and/or ACME and their genetic traits have not yet been well characterized. In the present study, the prevalence and genetic diversity of PVL(+)/ACME(+) MRSA were investigated for 422 MRSA clinical isolates collected from outpatients in northern Japan over a period of 1 year. All the isolates were genotyped for the staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) and coagulase genes (coa), and screened for PVL and ACME genes. The PVL(+)/ACME(+) isolates were studied further by genetic analysis, including single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis based on PVL genes (lukS-PV-lukF-PV), ACME (arc and opp3 clusters) and the sarU promoter region. Among all the isolates examined, PVL genes and ACME were detected in eight (SCCmec-II, n = 1; SCCmec-IV, n = 6; SCCmec-V, n = 1) and 20 (SCCmec-II, n = 14; SCCmec-IV, n = 5; SCCmec-V, n = 1) isolates, respectively. Five isolates were found to have both PVL genes and ACME (type I), and were classified into ST8/spa-t008/agr-I/coa-IIIa, which is the same genetic traits as USA300. Fifteen PVL(-)/ACME(+) isolates had type ΔII-ACME, belonging to either ST5 or ST764 [clonal complex (CC) 5], and spa-t001, -t002 or -t3557. All the ST8 PVL(+)/ACME-I(+) MRSA had identical sequences of PVL genes (haplotype R) and ACME arc/opp3 clusters as those of USA300. In contrast, in the CC5 PVL(-)/ACME-ΔII(+) MRSA, SNPs in the arc cluster were detected in 11 sites (four haplotypes), with some different profiles of virulence/resistance factors. These results indicated single clonality of ST8 PVL(+)/ACME-I(+) MRSA and heterogeneity of CC5 PVL(-)/ACME-ΔII(+) MRSA, and suggest their potential spread in northern Japan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arginine / genetics*
  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Exotoxins / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Genomic Islands / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Interspersed Repetitive Sequences / genetics*
  • Japan
  • Leukocidins / genetics*
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / genetics*
  • Prevalence
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / genetics*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Exotoxins
  • Leukocidins
  • Panton-Valentine leukocidin
  • Virulence Factors
  • Arginine