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The World in Medicine
May 9, 2001

S aureus Sequence Yields Clues

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JAMA. 2001;285(18):2319. doi:10.1001/jama.285.18.2319-JWM10004-2-1

Japanese researchers have added to the ranks of organisms whose genome has been sequenced two strains of Staphylococcus aureus—a methicillin-resistant S aureus and a vancomycin-resistant variant—and the genetic fine print that has been revealed is already yielding important clues to how this common pathogen causes disease.

One such clue uncovered by researchers from Juntendo University in Tokyo was the discovery of classes of new virulence gene clusters, or pathogenicity islands, that allow S aureus to produce potentially lethal toxins that underlie toxic shock syndrome and other conditions. Their analysis of the genome also identified as many as 70 candidate genes for potential virulence factors, which may become possible targets for new drugs and vaccines.