Genetic alterations responsible for reduced susceptibility to vancomycin in community-associated MRSA strains of ST72

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Abstract

Objectives:

We previously reported the first case of vancomycin treatment failure due to development of vancomycin-intermediate resistance in a patient with an MRSA of ST72, a community genotype in Korea. We investigated two isogenic MRSA strains from this patient, who experienced treatment failure with vancomycin and rifampicin.

Methods:

We tracked the genetic alterations that confer reduced susceptibility to vancomycin on those two isogenic MRSA strains by WGS.

Results:

Five non-synonymous mutations were identified, including rpoB (H481Y), dprA (G196C), femA (F92C), vraR (E127K) and agrC (E391stop). We further studied the role of a mutation of vraR in reduced susceptibility to vancomycin. Introduction of the mutated vraR (E127K) into a vancomycin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus strain resulted in an increase in vraSR mRNA expression and vancomycin MIC and development of the hetero-VISA phenotype, which was confirmed by the population analysis profile (PAP)/AUC. Electron microscopy showed increased cell wall thickness in the strains with mutated vraR.

Conclusions:

Based on the genomic data, molecular experiments and PAP and cell wall analyses, we propose that a single mutation of vraR is associated with the reduced susceptibility to vancomycin in MRSA and further treatment failure.

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