Distribution of genes encoding MSCRAMMs and Pili in clinical and natural populations of Enterococcus faecium

Publication Date



Journal of Clinical Microbiology


Enterococcus faecium has recently emerged as an important cause of nosocomial infections. We previously identified 15 predicted surface proteins with characteristics of MSCRAMMs and/or pili and demonstrated that their genes were frequently present in 30 clinical E. faecium isolates studied; one of these, acm, has been studied in further detail. To determine the prevalence of the other 14 genes among various E. faecium populations, we have now assessed 433 E. faecium isolates, including 264 isolates from human clinical infections, 69 isolates from stools of hospitalized patients, 70 isolates from stools of community volunteers, and 30 isolates from animal-related sources. A variable distribution of the 14 genes was detected, with their presence ranging from 51% to 98% of isolates. While 81% of clinical isolates carried 13 or 14 of the 14 genes tested, none of the community group isolates and only 13% of animal isolates carried 13 or 14 genes. The presence of these genes was most frequent in endocarditis isolates, with 11 genes present in all isolates, followed by isolates from other clinical sources. The number of genes significantly associated with clinical versus fecal or animal origin (P = 0.04 to <0.0001) varied from 10 to 13, depending on whether comparisons were made against individual clinical subgroups (endocarditis, blood, and other clinical isolates) or against all clinical isolates combined as one group. The strong association of these genes with clinical isolates raises the possibility that their preservation/acquisition has favored the adaptation of E. faecium to nosocomial environments and/or patients.


Adhesins, Bacterial, Animals, Bacterial Proteins, DNA, Bacterial, Enterococcus faecium, Feces, Fimbriae, Bacterial, Genes, Bacterial, Genotype, Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections, Humans, Virulence Factors