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A multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme has been developed for Staphylococcus aureus. The sequences of internal fragments of seven housekeeping genes were obtained for 155 S. aureus isolates from patients with community-acquired and hospital-acquired invasive disease in the Oxford, United Kingdom, area. Fifty-three different allelic profiles were identified, and 17 of these were represented by at least two isolates. The MLST scheme was highly discriminatory and was validated by showing that pairs of isolates with the same allelic profile produced very similar SmaI restriction fragment patterns by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. All 22 isolates with the most prevalent allelic profile were methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) isolates and had allelic profiles identical to that of a reference strain of the epidemic MRSA clone 16 (EMRSA-16). Four MRSA isolates that were identical in allelic profile to the other major epidemic MRSA clone prevalent in British hospitals (clone EMRSA-15) were also identified. The majority of isolates (81%) were methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) isolates, and seven MSSA clones included five or more isolates. Three of the MSSA clones included at least five isolates from patients with community-acquired invasive disease and may represent virulent clones with an increased ability to cause disease in otherwise healthy individuals. The most prevalent MSSA clone (17 isolates) was very closely related to EMRSA-16, and the success of the latter clone at causing disease in hospitals may be due to its emergence from a virulent MSSA clone that was already a major cause of invasive disease in both the community and hospital settings. MLST provides an unambiguous method for assigning MRSA and MSSA isolates to known clones or assigning them as novel clones via the Internet.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Microbiol

Publication Date





1008 - 1015


Bacterial Typing Techniques, Base Sequence, Community-Acquired Infections, Cross Infection, DNA Primers, England, Genes, Bacterial, Humans, Methicillin, Methicillin Resistance, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Staphylococcal Infections, Staphylococcus aureus