, 2003). However, recent reports contend that the contribution of homologous
recombination to core diversity in S. aureus may be underestimated (Chan et al., 2011). Nevertheless, mutation is a significant driving force Bafilomycin A1 in S. aureus diversification allowing for evolutionary classification of strains into ST types (see above) (Enright et al., 2000). Most SNPs are within coding regions reflecting the fact that ~ 80% of the core genome encodes protein (Highlander et al., 2007). Synonymous SNPs, those that do not result in amino acid changes, by far outweigh amino acid substituting nonsynonymous SNPs in S. aureus (Herron et al., 2002; Gill et al., 2005; Herron-Olson et al., 2007; Sivaraman & Cole, 2009). This is likely Smoothened Agonist because nonsynonymous mutations are more often detrimental and are therefore subject to evolutionary loss via purifying selection. Consequently, the relative
ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitution rate (dN/dS) among staphylococci is generally less than 1. In contrast, a recent report comparing the complete genome sequences of 10 newly isolated USA300 clones with the published FPRF3757 USA300 sequence revealed an unusually high ratio of nonsynonymous : synonymous SNPs (as high as 2.6 : 1, much higher than reported in comparisons of non-USA300 S. aureus lineages) (Kennedy et al., 2008). This discrepancy can be rationalized by assuming a recent clonal expansion of the USA300 lineage such that new isolates still harbor nonsynonymous SNPs that have not yet undergone purifying selection (Holden et al., 2004). To be sure, the unusually high dN/dS ratio of USA300 (-)-p-Bromotetramisole Oxalate clones is inconsistent with evolutionary convergence among distantly related clones, an event that would only be consistent with normal to low dN/dS ratios if the converging progenitors were of sufficiently diverse origins (Kennedy et al., 2008). It is important to note that overall low dN/dS ratios are not necessarily constant across all functional gene families. For instance, while housekeeping and metabolic genes generally exhibit low dN/dS ratios, genes encoding surface associated or secreted proteins can often
have elevated dN/dS ratios (Jordan et al., 2002; Rocha & Danchin, 2004). This is indicative of forward selective pressures driving variability in these genes either to promote functional differences (e.g. an adhesin adapting to a host receptor molecule) or immune avoidance through changes in antigenicity. Indeed, comparisons among divergent S. aureus clones reveal higher dN/dS ratios for genes encoding components of the cell envelope and secreted proteins than genes encoding housekeeping or metabolic enzymes (Herron et al., 2002; Herron-Olson et al., 2007; Highlander et al., 2007). USA300 clones, however, seem to be an exception to this rule. A recent comparison of genome sequences from USA200, USA300, and a distantly related S.