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The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and characteristics of ACME (arginine catabolic mobile element)-arcA-positive isolates among meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus haemolyticus (MRSH). ACME-arcA, native arcA and SCCmec elements were detected by PCR. Susceptibilities to 10 antimicrobial agents were compared between ACME-arcA-positive and -negative isolates by chi-square test. PFGE was used to investigate the clonal relatedness of ACME-arcA-positive isolates. The phylogenetic relationships of ACME-arcA and native arcA were analysed using the neighbour-joining methods of mega software. A total of 42 (47.7 %) of 88 isolates distributed in 13 PFGE types were positive for the ACME-arcA gene. There were no significant differences in antimicrobial susceptibility between ACME-arcA-positive and -negative isolates. A novel ccr allotype (ccrABSHP) was identified in ACME-arcA-positive isolates. Among 42 ACME-arcA-positive isolates: 8 isolates harboured SCCmec V, 8 isolates harboured class C1 mec complex and ccrABSHP; 22 isolates harbouring class C1 mec complex and 4 isolates harbouring class C2 mec complex were negative for all known ccr allotypes. The ACME-arcA-positive isolates were first found in MRSH with high prevalence and clonal diversity, which suggests a mobility of ACME within MRSH. The results from this study revealed that MRSH is likely to be one of the potential reservoirs of ACME for Staphylococcus aureus.

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