The arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME) is prevalent among methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates of sequence type 8 (ST8) and staphylococcal chromosomal cassette mec (SCCmec) type IVa (USA300) (ST8-MRSA-IVa isolates), and evidence suggests that ACME enhances the ability of ST8-MRSA-IVa to grow and survive on its host. ACME has been identified in a small number of isolates belonging to other MRSA clones but is widespread among coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS). This study reports the first description of ACME in two distinct strains of the pandemic ST22-MRSA-IV clone. A total of 238 MRSA isolates recovered in Ireland between 1971 and 2008 were investigated for ACME using a DNA microarray. Twenty-three isolates (9.7%) were ACME positive, and all were either MRSA genotype ST8-MRSA-IVa (7/23, 30%) or MRSA genotype ST22-MRSA-IV (16/23, 70%). Whole-genome sequencing and comprehensive molecular characterization revealed the presence of a novel 46-kb ACME and staphylococcal chromosomal cassette mec (SCCmec) composite island (ACME/SCCmec-CI) in ST22-MRSA-IVh isolates (n = 15). This ACME/SCCmec-CI consists of a 12-kb DNA region previously identified in ACME type II in S. epidermidis ATCC 12228, a truncated copy of the J1 region of SCCmec type I, and a complete SCCmec type IVh element. The composite island has a novel genetic organization, with ACME located within orfX and SCCmec located downstream of ACME. One PVL locus-positive ST22-MRSA-IVa isolate carried ACME located downstream of SCCmec type IVa, as previously described in ST8-MRSA-IVa. These results suggest that ACME has been acquired by ST22-MRSA-IV on two independent occasions. At least one of these instances may have involved horizontal transfer and recombination events between MRSA and CoNS. The presence of ACME may enhance dissemination of ST22-MRSA-IV, an already successful MRSA clone
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