Cloning and occurrence of czrC, a gene conferring cadmium and zinc resistance in MRSA CC398 Isolates

Lina Cavaco, Henrik Hasman, Marc Stegger, Paul Skytt Andersen, Robert Skov, Ad C Fluit, Teruyo Ito, Frank Møller Aarestrup

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We recently reported a phenotypic association between reduced susceptibility to zinc and methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus CC398 isolates from Danish swine (F. M. Aarestrup, L. M. Cavaco, and H. Hasman, Vet. Microbiol. 142:455-457, 2009). The aim of this study was to identify the genetic determinant causing zinc resistance in CC398 and examine its prevalence in isolates of animal and human origin. Based on the sequence of the staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) element from methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) CC398 strain SO385, a putative metal resistance gene was identified in strain 171 and cloned in S. aureus RN4220. Furthermore, 81 MRSA and 48 methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) strains, isolated from pigs (31 and 28) and from humans (50 and 20) in Denmark, were tested for susceptibility to zinc chloride and for the presence of a putative resistance determinant, czrC, by PCR. The cloning of czrC confirmed that the zinc chloride and cadmium acetate MICs for isogenic constructs carrying this gene were increased compared to those for S. aureus RN4220. No difference in susceptibility to sodium arsenate, copper sulfate, or silver nitrate was observed. Seventy-four percent (n = 23) of the animal isolates and 48% (n = 24) of the human MRSA isolates of CC398 were resistant to zinc chloride and positive for czrC. All 48 MSSA strains from both human and pig origins were found to be susceptible to zinc chloride and negative for czrC. Our findings showed that czrC is encoding zinc and cadmium resistance in CC398 MRSA isolates, and that it is widespread both in humans and animals. Thus, resistance to heavy metals such as zinc and cadmium may play a role in the coselection of methicillin resistance in S. aureus.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)3605-3608
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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