Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 8;11(1):5447. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-84481-6.
To trace the linkage between Japanese healthcare-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA) strains in the early 1980s and the 2000s onward, we performed molecular characterizations using mainly whole-genome sequencing. Among the 194 S. aureus strains isolated, 20 mecA-positive MRSA (10.3%), 8 mecA-negative MRSA (4.1%) and 3 mecA-positive methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) (1.5%) strains were identified. The most frequent sequence type (ST) was ST30 (n = 11), followed by ST5 (n = 8), ST81 (n = 4), and ST247 (n = 3). Rates of staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) types I, II, and IV composed 65.2%, 13.0%, and 17.4% of isolates, respectively. Notably, 73.3% of SCCmec type I strains were susceptible to imipenem unlike SCCmec type II strains (0%). ST30-SCCmec I (n = 7) and ST5-SCCmec I (n = 5) predominated, whereas only two strains exhibited imipenem-resistance and were tst-positive ST5-SCCmec II, which is the current Japanese HA-MRSA genotype. All ST30 strains shared the common ancestor strain 55/2053, which caused the global pandemic of Panton-Valentine leukocidin-positive MSSA in Europe and the United States in the 1950s. Conspicuously more heterogeneous, the population of HA-MRSA clones observed in the 1980s, including the ST30-SCCmec I clone, has shifted to the current homogeneous population of imipenem-resistant ST5-SCCmec II clones, probably due to the introduction of new antimicrobials.