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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Characterization of a complex context containing mecA but lacking genes encoding cassette chromosome recombinases in Staphylococcus haemolyticus

Zhiyong Zong

Author Affiliations

Center of Infectious Diseases, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Guoxuexiang 37, Chengdu, 610041, China

State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China

BMC Microbiology 2013, 13:64  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-64

Published: 22 March 2013



Methicillin resistance determinant mecA is generally transferred by SCCmec elements. However, the mecA gene might not be carried by a SCCmec in a Staphylococcus haemolyticus clinical isolate, WCH1, as no cassette chromosome recombinase genes were detected. Therefore, the genetic context of mecA in WCH1 was investigated.


A 40-kb region containing mecA was obtained from WCH1, bounded by orfX at one end and several orfs of S. haemolyticus core chromosome at the other. This 40-kb region was very complex in structure with multiple genetic components that appeared to have different origins. For instance, the 3.7-kb structure adjacent to orfX was almost identical to that on the chromosome of Staphylococcus epidermidis RP62a but was absent from S. haemolyticus JCSC1435. Terminal inverted repeats of SCC were found but no ccr genes could be detected. mecA was bracketed by two copies of IS431, which was flanked by 8-bp direct target repeat sequence (DR).


The presence of 8-bp DR suggests that the two copies of IS431 might have formed a composite transposon for mobilizing mecA. This finding is of significance as multiple copies of IS431 are commonly present in the contexts of mecA, which might have the potential to form various composite transposons that could mediate the mobilization of mecA. This study also provides an explanation for the absence of ccr in some staphylococci isolates carrying mecA.