Phenotypes and virulence among Staphylococcus aureus USA100, USA200, USA300, USA400, and USA600 clonal lineages

Jessica M. King, Katarina Kulhankova, Christopher S. Stach, Bao G. Vu, Wilmara Salgado-Pabón

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69 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus diseases affect ~500,000 individuals per year in the United States. Worldwide, the USA100, USA200, USA400, and USA600 lineages cause many of the life-threatening S. aureus infections, such as bacteremia, infective endocarditis, pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome, and surgical site infections. However, the virulence mechanisms associated with these clonal lineages, in particular the USA100 and USA600 isolates, have been severely understudied. We investigated the virulence of these strains, in addition to strains in the USA200, USA300, and USA400 types, in well-established in vitro assays and in vivo in the rabbit model of infective endocarditis and sepsis. We show in the infective endocarditis and sepsis model that strains in the USA100 and USA600 lineages cause high lethality and are proficient in causing native valve infective endocarditis. Strains with high cytolytic activity or producing toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1) or staphylococcal enterotoxin C (SEC) caused lethal sepsis, even with low cytolytic activity. Strains in the USA100, USA200, USA400, and USA600 lineages consistently contained genes that encode for the enterotoxin gene cluster proteins, SEC, or TSST-1 and were proficient at causing infective endocarditis, while the USA300 strains lacked these toxins and were deficient in promoting vegetation growth. The USA100, USA200, and USA400 strains in our collection formed strong biofilms in vitro, whereas the USA200 and USA600 strains exhibited increased blood survival. Hence, infective endocarditis and lethal sepsis are multifactorial and not intrinsic to any one individual clonal group, further highlighting the importance of expanding our knowledge of S. aureus pathogenesis to clonal lineages causative of invasive disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00071-16
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Patrick M. Schlievert for the USA200, USA300, and USA400 isolates and Daniel J. Diekema for the USA100 and USA600 isolates used in this study (both at the University of Iowa). This work, including the efforts of Wilmara Salgado-Pabón, was funded by American Heart Association (AHA) (15SDG24870016). This work was supported by the American Heart Association (15SDG24870016), the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Startup to W.S.-P., and T32AI007260-20 to J.M.K

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 King et al.


  • Infective endocarditis
  • Rabbit model
  • Sepsis
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Superantigens
  • Virulence factors


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