Role of stop codons in development and loss of vancomycin non-susceptibility in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

V. C. Doddangoudar, Margaret May O'Donoghue, E. Y.C. Chong, D. N.C. Tsang, M. V. Boost

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Problems of vancomycin non-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (VISA) and subsequent treatment failure are increasing. This study aimed to observe development and loss of vancomycin non-susceptibility, determine exposure time needed for resistance development, and follow mutations in the VraSR and GraSR two-component systems during these processes. Methods: Sequences of vraS, graR and rpoB, proposed as critical sites of mutation associated with non-susceptibility development, were compared in susceptible clinical methicillin-resistant S. aureus isolates both initially and following vancomycin induction and its withdrawal, to identify mutations. Mutations were correlated with exposure time, increase in vancomycin MIC and phenotypic changes. Results: Both time required for heterogeneous VISA and VISA development, and maximum MIC attained (6-20 mg/L) varied between strains. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of stop codons in an initial strain with delayed non-susceptibility development. Other changes in vraS and graR occurred during VISA development in all isolates. After removal of vancomycin pressure, most strains reverted to susceptibility accompanied by emergence of stop codons in both vraS and graR. One strain not displaying stop codons remained resistant in the absence of vancomycin pressure. A substitution in GraR (D148Q) appeared to be associated with an elevated MIC (20 mg/L). No rpoB mutations were observed throughout VISA development. Conclusions: Vancomycin non-susceptibility developed in all strains tested. Mutations in vraS and graR appeared to be essential for VISA development, with stop codons playing an important role in delaying non-susceptibility development and reversion. Absence of mutations in rpoB suggests that these are not essential for vancomycin resistance. Further work is required to confirm consistent changes involved in non-susceptibility development.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdks171
Pages (from-to)2101-2106
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012


  • RpoB
  • Two-component systems
  • VISA
  • VraSR/graSR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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