MRSA strain swiped skin bacteria genes to survive | Science News



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MRSA strain swiped skin bacteria genes to survive

The deadly MRSA USA300 strain (pink) has genes that make it immune to toxins on the skin, but the microbe can't always escape engulfment by humans' white blood cells (green).

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Guest post by Beth Mole

A common strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus may be a wolf in sheep's clothing.

The deadly USA300 strain, which swept across the country in the 1990s and currently lurks in NFL locker rooms, appears to have swiped genetic components from benign skin bacteria. Some of the borrowed genes make the microbe immune to toxins secreted by human skin, researchers report December 17 in mBio.

USA300's acquired immunity may have allowed the strain to spread unnoticed and elbow out other — less dangerous — forms of staph on the skin, the authors suggest.

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