Horizontal gene transfer plays important roles in the evolution of S. aureus, and indeed, a variety of virulence factors and antibiotic resistance genes are embedded in a series of mobile genetic elements. In this chapter, we review the mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer, including recent findings on the natural genetic competence. Then, we consider the transfer of two important antibiotic resistance genes: the methicillin resistance gene, mecA (in Staphylococcal Cassette Chromosome) and the linezolid resistance gene, cfr (in plasmid). In either case, distinct mechanisms driving the gene dissemination support the prominent evolutionary ability of this important human pathogen.
Part of the book: The Rise of Virulence and Antibiotic Resistance in Staphylococcus aureus