Detection of Staphylococcus aureus delta-toxin production by whole-cell MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry.
ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to detect the Staphylococcus aureus delta-toxin using Whole-Cell (WC) Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Time-of-Flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS), correlate delta-toxin expression with accessory gene regulator (agr) status, and assess the prevalence of agr deficiency in clinical isolates with and without resistance to methicillin and glycopeptides. The position of the delta-toxin peak in the mass spectrum was identified using purified delta-toxin and isogenic wild type and mutant strains for agr-rnaIII, which encodes delta-toxin. Correlation between delta-toxin production and agr RNAIII expression was assessed by northern blotting. A series of 168 consecutive clinical isolates and 23 unrelated glycopeptide-intermediate S. aureus strains (GISA/heterogeneous GISA) were then tested by WC-MALDI-TOF MS. The delta-toxin peak was detected at 3005±5 Thomson, as expected for the naturally formylated delta toxin, or at 3035±5 Thomson for its G10S variant. Multivariate analysis showed that chronicity of S. aureus infection and glycopeptide resistance were significantly associated with delta-toxin deficiency (p?=?0.048; CI 95%: 1.01-10.24; p?=?0.023; CI 95%: 1.20-12.76, respectively). In conclusion, the S. aureus delta-toxin was identified in the WC-MALDI-TOF MS spectrum generated during routine identification procedures. Consequently, agr status can potentially predict infectious complications and rationalise application of novel virulence factor-based therapies.
Project description:In the human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, the agr quorum sensing system controls expression of a multitude of virulence factors and yet, agr negative cells frequently arise both in the laboratory and in some infections. The aim of this study was to examine the possible reasons behind this phenomenon.We examined viability of wild type and agr mutant cell cultures using a live-dead stain and observed that in stationary phase, 3% of the wild type population became non-viable whereas for agr mutant cells non-viable cells were barely detectable. The effect appears to be mediated by RNAIII, the effector molecule of agr, as ectopic overexpression of RNAIII resulted in 60% of the population becoming non-viable. This effect was not due to toxicity from delta toxin that is encoded by the hld gene located within RNAIII as hld overexpression did not cause cell death. Importantly, lysed S. aureus cells promoted bacterial growth. Our data suggest that RNAIII mediated cell death of agr positive but not agr negative cells provides a selective advantage to the agr negative cell population and may contribute to the common appearance of agr negative cells in S. aureus populations.
Project description:The majority of infections with glycopeptide intermediate-level resistant Staphylococcus aureus (GISA) originate in biomedical devices, suggesting a possible increased ability of these strains to produce biofilm. Loss of function of the accessory gene regulator (agr) of S. aureus has been suggested to confer an enhanced ability to bind to polystyrene. We studied agr in GISA, hetero-GISA, and related glycopeptide-susceptible S. aureus isolates. All GISA strains from diverse geographic origins belong to agr group II. All GISA strains were defective in agr function, as demonstrated by their inability to produce delta-hemolysin. Hetero-GISA isolate A5940 demonstrated a nonsense mutation in agrA that was not present in a pulsed-field gel electrophoresis-indistinguishable vancomycin-susceptible isolate from the same patient. Various other agr point mutations were noted in several clinical GISA and hetero-GISA isolates. A laboratory-generated agr-null strain demonstrated a small but reproducible increase in vancomycin heteroresistance after growth in vitro in subinhibitory concentrations of vancomycin. This was not seen in the isogenic agr group II parent strain in which agr was intact. The in vitro bactericidal activity of vancomycin was attenuated in the agr-null strain compared to the parent strain. These findings imply that compromised agr function is advantageous to clinical isolates of S. aureus toward the development of vancomycin heteroresistance, perhaps through the development of vancomycin tolerance.
Project description:Cell-density-dependent gene regulation by quorum-sensing systems has a crucial function in bacterial physiology and pathogenesis. We demonstrate here that the Staphylococcus aureus agr quorum-sensing regulon is divided into (1) control of metabolism and PSM cytolysin genes, which occurs independently of the small regulatory RNA RNAIII, and (2) RNAIII-dependent control of additional virulence genes. Remarkably, PSM expression was regulated by direct binding of the AgrA response regulator. Our findings suggest that quorum-sensing regulation of PSMs was established before wide-ranging control of virulence was added to the agr regulon, which likely occurred by development of the RNAIII-encoding region around the gene encoding the PSM delta-toxin. Moreover, the agr regulon in the community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus MW2 considerably differed from that previously determined using laboratory strains. By establishing a two-level model of quorum-sensing target gene regulation in S. aureus, our study gives important insight into the evolution of virulence control in this leading human pathogen.
Project description:Many of the genes coding for extracellular toxins, enzymes, and cell surface proteins in Staphylococcus aureus are regulated by a 510-nucleotide (nt) RNA molecule, RNAIII. Transcription of genes encoding secreted toxins and enzymes, including hla (alpha-toxin), saeB (enterotoxin B), tst (toxic shock syndrome toxin 1), and ssp (serine protease), is stimulated, while transcription of genes encoding cell surface proteins, like spa (protein A) and fnb (fibronectin binding proteins), is repressed. Besides being a regulator, RNAIII is also an mRNA coding for staphylococcal delta-lysin. We have identified RNAIII homologs in three different coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS), i.e., Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus simulans, and Staphylococcus warneri. RNAIII from these CoNS turned out to be very similar to that of S. aureus and contained open reading frames encoding delta-lysin homologs. Though a number of big insertions and/or deletions have occurred, mainly in the 5' half of the molecules, the sequences show a high degree of identity, especially in the first 50 and last 150 nt. The CoNS RNAIII had the ability to completely repress transcription of protein A in an RNAIII-deficient S. aureus mutant and the ability to stimulate transcription of the alpha-toxin and serine protease genes. However, the stimulatory effect was impaired compared to that of S. aureus RNAIII, suggesting that these regulatory functions are independent. By creating S. epidermidis-S. aureus RNAIII hybrids, we could also show that both the 5' and 3' halves of the RNAIII molecule are involved in the transcriptional regulation of alpha-toxin and serine protease mRNAs in S. aureus.
Project description:RNAIII from Staphylococcus lugdunensis (RNAIII-sl) in a Staphylococcus aureus agr mutant partially restored the Agr phenotype. A chimeric construct consisting of the 5' end of RNAIII-sl and the 3' end of RNAIII from S. aureus restored the Agr phenotype to a greater extent, suggesting the presence of independent regulatory domains.
Project description:The Staphylococcus aureus accessory gene regulator (agr) is a prototype quorum-sensing system in Gram-positive bacteria and a paradigmatic example of gene regulation by a small regulatory RNA, RNAIII. Using genome-wide transcriptional profiling in the community-associated methicillin-resistant (CA-MRSA) strain MW2, we demonstrate here that in contrast to the current model of target gene regulation by agr, a large subset of agr-regulated genes is controlled independently of RNAIII. This group comprised predominantly metabolism genes, whereas virulence factors were mostly controlled by RNAIII. Remarkably, the phenol-soluble modulin (PSM) leukocidin genes were the only virulence determinants under RNAIII-independent control, emphasizing their exceptional role in S. aureus physiology and pathogenesis. Of note, PSM promoters bound the AgrA response regulator protein, previously believed to interact exclusively with agr promoters, explaining the exceptionally strict control of PSMs by agr. Our results suggest that virulence factor control is a secondary acquisition of the agr regulon, which evolved by development of RNAIII around the mRNA of the PSM d-toxin, exemplifying how gene control via a small regulatory RNA may be linked to a pre-established regulatory circuit. In addition to elucidating agr control in CA-MRSA, which revealed features potentially crucial for CA-MRSA pathogenesis, our study establishes a novel two-level model of cell-density dependent gene regulation in S. aureus and gives important insight into the connection of metabolism and virulence control in this leading opportunistic pathogen. Keywords: Wild type control vs mutant Wild type in triplicate is compared to mutant in triplicate totalling 27 samples
Project description:Bacteria possess a repertoire of distinct regulatory systems promoting survival in disparate environments. Under in vitro conditions it was demonstrated for the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus that the expression of most virulence factors is coordinated by the global regulator agr. To monitor bacterial gene regulation in the host, we developed a method for direct transcript analysis from clinical specimens. Quantification of specific transcripts was performed by competitive reverse transcription-PCR, and results were normalized against the constitutively expressed gene for gyrase (gyr). Using sputum from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients infected with S. aureus we examined the transcription of the effector molecule RNAIII of agr, of spa (protein A), generally repressed by agr, and of hla (alpha-toxin), generally activated by agr. In the CF lung RNAIII was expressed poorly, indicating an inactive agr in vivo. Despite the low level of RNAIII expression, spa was detectable only in minute amounts and an irregular transcription of hla was observed in all sputum samples. After subculturing of patient strains agr-deficient isolates and isolates with unusual expression profiles, i.e., not consistent with those obtained from prototypic strains, were observed. In conclusion, the agr activity seems to be nonessential in CF, and from the described expression pattern of spa and hla, other regulatory circuits aside from agr are postulated in vivo.
Project description:The Staphylococcus aureus accessory gene regulator (agr) is a prototype quorum-sensing system in Gram-positive bacteria and a paradigmatic example of gene regulation by a small regulatory RNA, RNAIII. Using genome-wide transcriptional profiling in the community-associated methicillin-resistant (CA-MRSA) strain MW2, we demonstrate here that in contrast to the current model of target gene regulation by agr, a large subset of agr-regulated genes is controlled independently of RNAIII. This group comprised predominantly metabolism genes, whereas virulence factors were mostly controlled by RNAIII. Remarkably, the phenol-soluble modulin (PSM) leukocidin genes were the only virulence determinants under RNAIII-independent control, emphasizing their exceptional role in S. aureus physiology and pathogenesis. Of note, PSM promoters bound the AgrA response regulator protein, previously believed to interact exclusively with agr promoters, explaining the exceptionally strict control of PSMs by agr. Our results suggest that virulence factor control is a secondary acquisition of the agr regulon, which evolved by development of RNAIII around the mRNA of the PSM d-toxin, exemplifying how gene control via a small regulatory RNA may be linked to a pre-established regulatory circuit. In addition to elucidating agr control in CA-MRSA, which revealed features potentially crucial for CA-MRSA pathogenesis, our study establishes a novel two-level model of cell-density dependent gene regulation in S. aureus and gives important insight into the connection of metabolism and virulence control in this leading opportunistic pathogen. Keywords: Wild type control vs mutant Overall design: Wild type in triplicate is compared to mutant in triplicate totalling 27 samples
Project description:Mupirocin, a topical antibiotic, has been utilized for decades to treat Staphylococcus aureus skin infections, as well as to decolonize patients at risk of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infection. The aims of this study were to investigate the expression of ?-toxin (encoded by the hla gene) in ten clinical MRSA strains (MIC = 1024 ?g/ml) in response to a sub-inhibitory concentration of mupirocin (1/32 minimum inhibitory concentration [MIC]) (32 ?g/ml) by using ?-toxin activity determination and enzyme-linked immune sorbent assay (ELISA). Subsequently, real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to examine the expression of saeR, agrA, RNAIII, and sarA genes under sub-inhibitory concentration of mupirocin in order to investigate the mechanism of action of this treatment regarding its strong inhibition of ?-toxin expression. For all the strains tested, mupirocin dramatically reduced mRNA levels of ?-toxin. The results indicated that ?-toxin activity in mupirocin-treated groups was significantly lower than that in untreated groups. The results show that the levels of agrA, RNAIII, saeR, and sarA expression significantly decrease by 11.82- to 2.23-fold (P < 0.01). Moreover, we speculate that mupirocin-induced inhibition of ?-toxin expression may be related to the inhibition of regulatory loci, such as agr, sarA and saeRS. More specifically, we found that the mechanism involves inhibiting the expression of agrA and RNAIII. In conclusion, sub-inhibitory concentrations of mupirocin strongly inhibit alpha-toxin production in high-level mupirocin-resistant MRSA by down-regulating agr, saeRS and sarA, which could potentially be developed as a supplemental treatment to control high-level mupirocin-resistant MRSA infection and reduce the risk of infection and colonization.
Project description:Loss of agr function, vancomycin exposure, and abnormal autolysis have been linked with both development of the GISA phenotype and low-level resistance in vitro to thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins (tPMPs). We examined the potential in vitro interrelationships among these parameters in well-characterized, isogenic laboratory-derived and clinical Staphylococcus aureus isolates. The laboratory-derived S. aureus strains included RN6607 (agrII-positive parent) and RN6607V (vancomycin-passaged variant; hetero-GISA), RN9120 (RN6607 agr::tetM; agr II knockout parent), RN9120V (vancomycin-passaged variant), and RN9120-GISA (vancomycin passaged, GISA). Two serial isolates from a vancomycin-treated patient with recalcitrant, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) endocarditis were also studied: A5937 (agrII-positive initial isolate) and A5940 (agrII-defective/hetero-GISA isolate obtained after prolonged vancomycin administration). In vitro tPMP susceptibility phenotypes were assessed after exposure of strains to either 1 or 2 mug/ml. Triton X-100- and vancomycin-induced lysis profiles were determined spectrophotometrically. For agrII-intact strain RN6607, vancomycin exposure in vitro was associated with modest increases in vancomycin MICs and reduced killing by tPMP, but no change in lysis profiles. In contrast, vancomycin exposure of agrII-negative RN9120 yielded a hetero-GISA phenotype and was associated with defects in lysis and reduced in vitro killing by tPMP. In the clinical isolates, loss of agrII function during prolonged vancomycin therapy was accompanied by emergence of the hetero-GISA phenotype and reduced tPMP killing, with no significant change in lysis profiles. An association was identified between loss of agrII function and the emergence of hetero-GISA phenotype during either in vitro or in vivo vancomycin exposure. In vitro, these events were associated with defective lysis and reduced susceptibility to tPMP. The precise mechanism(s) underlying these findings is the subject of current investigations.