The most common causative agent of exudative epidermitis (EE) in pigs is Staphylococcus hyicus. S. hyicus can be grouped into toxigenic and non-toxigenic strains based on their ability to cause EE in pigs and specific virulence genes have been identified. A genome wide comparison between non-toxigenic and toxigenic strains has never been performed. In this study, we sequenced eleven toxigenic and six non-toxigenic S. hyicus strains and performed comparative genomic and phylogenetic analysis. Our analyses revealed two genomic regions encoding genes that were predominantly found in toxigenic strains and are predicted to encode for virulence determinants for EE. All toxigenic strains encoded for one of the exfoliative toxins ExhA, ExhB, ExhC, or ExhD. In addition, one of these regions encoded for an ADP-ribosyltransferase (EDIN, epidermal cell differentiation inhibitor) and a novel putative RNase toxin (polymorphic toxin) and was associated with the gene encoding ExhA. A clear differentiation between toxigenic and non-toxigenic strains based on genomic and phylogenetic analyses was not apparent. The results of this study support the observation that exfoliative toxins of S. hyicus and S. aureus are located on genetic elements such as pathogenicity islands, phages, prophages and plasmids.
Keywords: Comparative genomics; Genome; S. hyicus; Toxigenic S. hyicus.
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