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  • 1 Ankara University, Turkey
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Bacteriophages play an important role in the pathogenicity of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) either by carrying accessory virulence factors or several superantigens. Despite their importance, there are not many studies showing the actual distribution of the virulence genes carried by the prophages obtained from the clinically isolated Staphylococcus. In this study, we investigated prophages obtained from methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains isolated from hospital- and community-associated (HA-CA) infections for the virulence factors. In the study, 43 phages isolated from 48 MRSA were investigated for carrying toxin genes including the sak, eta, lukF-PV, sea, selp, sek, seg, seq chp, and scn virulence genes using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Southern blot. Restriction fragment length polymorphism was used to analyze phage genomes to investigate the relationship between the phage profiles and the toxin genes’ presence. MRSA strains isolated from HA infections tended to have higher prophage presence than the MRSA strains obtained from the CA infections (97% and 67%, respectively). The study showed that all the phages with the exception of one phage contained one or more virulence genes in their genomes with different combinations. The most common toxin genes found were sea (83%) followed by sek (77%) and seq (64%). The study indicates that prophages encode a significant proportion of MRSA virulence factors.

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