Typing of Panton-Valentine leukocidin-encoding phages carried by methicillin-susceptible and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus from Italy

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2014 Nov;20(11):O840-6. doi: 10.1111/1469-0691.12679. Epub 2014 Jun 14.


Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) is the hallmark of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) but can also be found in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) sharing pathogenic and epidemiological characteristics of CA-MRSA. PVL is encoded by two co-transcribed genes that are carried by different staphylococcal bacteriophages. We applied an extended PCR-based typing scheme for the identification of two morphological groups (elongated-head group and icosahedral-head group I phages) and specific PVL phage types in S. aureus isolates recovered in Italy. We examined 48 PVL-positive isolates (25 MSSA and 23 MRSA) collected from different hospital laboratories from April 2005 to May 2011. spa typing, multilocus sequence typing and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec typing were applied to categorize the isolates. Phage typeability was 48.0% in MSSA and 91.3% in MRSA, highlighting the limitation of the PCR typing scheme when applied to PVL-positive MSSA. Five different PVL phages and two variants of a known phage were detected, the most prevalent being ΦSa2usa, recovered in 15 out of 48 (31.2%) isolates, and carried by both MSSA and MRSA belonging to CC8 and CC5. The recently described ΦTCH60 was recovered in four isolates. A PVL phage (ΦSa119) from an ST772 MRSA, that was not detected using the previous typing scheme, was sequenced, and new primers were designed for the identification of the icosahedral-head group II PVL phages present in ST772 and ST59 MRSA. A comprehensive PVL-phage typing can contribute to the understanding of the epidemiology and evolution of PVL-positive MSSA and MRSA.

Keywords: Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Panton-Valentine leukocidin; ST772; methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus; phage typing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics*
  • DNA, Viral / chemistry
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Exotoxins / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Genotyping Techniques
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Leukocidins / genetics*
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / classification
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / virology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Typing
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus Phages / classification*
  • Staphylococcus Phages / genetics*


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • DNA, Viral
  • Exotoxins
  • Leukocidins
  • Panton-Valentine leukocidin

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KJ596420