Distribution adn characterization of staphylococcal interspersed repeat units (SIRUs) and potential use for strain differentiation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


Variable-number tandem repeats (VNTRs) have been shown to be a powerful tool in the determination of evolutionary relationships and population genetics of bacteria. The sequencing of a number of Staphylococcus aureus genomes has allowed the identification of novel VNTR sequences in S. aureus, which are similar to those used in the study of the evolution of Mycobacterium tuberculosis clades. Seven VNTRs, termed staphylococcal interspersed repeat units (SIRUs), distributed around the genome are described, occurring in both unique and multiple sites, and varying in length from 48 to 159 bp. Variations in copy numbers were observed in all loci, within both the sequenced genomes and the UK epidemic methicillin-resistant S. aureus (EMRSA) isolates. Clonally related UK EMRSA isolates were clustered using SIRUs, which provided a greater degree of discrimination than multi-locus sequence typing, indicating that VNTRs may be a more appropriate evolutionary marker for studying transmission events and the geographical spread of S. aureus clades.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4045-52
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004