Isolation and characterization of MRSA phages with lytic activity against CC398 strains
Some years ago, MRSA clonal complex (CC) 398 emerged, which spread extensively in livestock animals. People in contact with food production animals are athigh risk of colonization. A reduction of MRSA CC398 in livestock might be achieved by application of virulent phages. However, there have not yet been any reports published on phages lysing MRSA CC398 strains. In this study, three virulent phages (PSa1, PSa2 and PSa3) with lytic activity against MRSA CC398 strains were isolated from German pig farms. Morphologically, the phages are members of the family Podoviridae, and they exhibited an identical host range. They lysed 52 (60 %) out of 86 tested MRSA CC398 strains representing 18 different spa types. While the PSa1 and PSa3 genomes have a similar size of approximately 17.5 kb, the PSa2 genome is somewhat larger (ca. 18.5 kb). Southern hybridization revealed strong DNA homologies between the phages, which was confirmed by sequence analysis of cloned restriction fragmentsand PCR products. Moreover, the whole PSa3 genomic sequence (17,602 bp) showed a close relationship to 44AHJD-like phages, which are not known to contain virulence-associated genes. To assess whether these phages might be candidates for applications, in vitro experiments were carried out in which the number of MRSA CC398 cells could be reduced by up to four log10 units. The phages were stable at a wide range of temperatures and pH values.