Characterisation of neonatal Staphylococcus capitis NRCS-A isolates compared with non NRCS-A Staphylococcus capitis from neonates and adults

Heather Felgate, Dheeraj Sethi, Kirsten Faust, Cemsid Kiy, Christoph Härtel, Jan Rupp, Rebecca Clifford, Rachael Dean, Catherine Tremlett, John Wain, Gemma Langridge, Paul Clarke, Andrew J. Page, Mark A. Webber

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Staphylococcus capitis is a frequent cause of late-onset sepsis in neonates admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). One clone of S. capitis, NRCS-A has been isolated from NICUs globally although the reasons for the global success of this clone are not well understood.

We analysed a collection of S. capitis colonising babies admitted to two NICUs, one in the UK and one in Germany as well as corresponding pathological clinical isolates. Genome analysis identified a population structure of three groups; non-NRCS-A isolates, NRCS-A isolates, and a group of ‘proto NRCS-A’ – isolates closely related to NRCS-A but not associated with neonatal infection. All bloodstream isolates belonged to the NRCS-A group and were indistinguishable from strains carried on the skin or in the gut. NRCS-A isolates showed increased tolerance to chlorhexidine and antibiotics relative to the other S. capitis as well as enhanced ability to grow at higher pH values. Analysis of the pangenome of 138 isolates identified characteristic nsr and tarJ genes in both the NRCS-A and proto groups. A CRISPR-cas system was only seen in NRCS-A isolates which also showed enrichment of genes for metal acquisition and transport.

We found evidence for transmission of S. capitis NRCS-A within NICU, with related isolates shared between babies and multiple acquisitions by some babies. Our data show NRCS-A strains commonly colonise uninfected babies in NICU representing a potential reservoir for potential infection. This work provides more evidence that adaptation to survive in the gut and on skin facilitates spread of NRCS-A, and that metal acquisition and tolerance may be important to the biology of NRCS-A. Understanding how NRCS-A survives in NICUs can help develop infection control procedures against this clone.
Original languageEnglish
Article number001106
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2023


  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Late Onset Infection
  • infection control
  • microbiota
  • neonates
  • skin

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