Basis of virulence in a Panton-Valentine leukocidin-negative community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain.
ABSTRACT: Community-associated (CA) infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are on a global rise. However, analysis of virulence characteristics has been limited almost exclusively to the US endemic strain USA300. CA-MRSA strains that do not produce Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) have not been investigated on a molecular level. Therefore, we analyzed virulence determinants in a PVL-negative CA-MRSA strain, ST72, from Korea. Genome-wide analysis identified 3 loci that are unique to that strain, but did not affect virulence. In contrast, phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs) and the global virulence regulator Agr strongly affected lysis of neutrophils and erythrocytes, while ?-toxin and Agr had a major impact on in vivo virulence. Our findings substantiate the general key roles these factors play in CA-MRSA virulence. However, our analyses also showed noticeable differences to strain USA300, inasmuch as ?-toxin emerged as a much more important factor than PSMs in experimental skin infection caused by ST72.
Project description:In the past decade, community-associated (CA-) infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have emerged throughout the world. Different CA-MRSA strains dominate in different geographical locations. Many CA-MRSA lineages contain genes coding for the Pantón-Valentine leukocidin. However, the role of this leukotoxin in CA-MRSA pathogenesis is still controversial. The genome sequences of two key PVL-positive CA-MRSA strains (USA300, USA400) have been reported, but we lack information on the more recently found PVL-negative CA-MRSA strains. One such strain is the PVL-negative ST72, the main cause of CA-MRSA infections in Korea. Here, we report the entire genome sequence of CA-MRSA ST72 and analyze its gene content with a focus on virulence factors. Our results show that this strain does not have considerable differences in virulence factor content compared to other CA-MRSA strains (USA300, USA400), indicating that other toxins do not substitute for the lack of PVL in ST72. This finding is in accordance with the notion that differential expression of widespread virulence determinants, rather than the acquisition of additional virulence factors on mobile genetic elements, such as PVL, is responsible for the increased virulence of CA- compared to hospital-associated MRSA.
Project description:Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is increasingly responsible for staphylococcal infections in the community. A large percentage of the community-acquired methicillin-resistant (CA-MRSA) strains in the USA produce Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), which is associated with severe infections. The virulence of the clinical CA-MRSA strain USA300 was compared to that of its isogenic pvl-deleted mutant, and it was shown that PVL contributes to lung and muscle tissue destruction, respectively, in murine necrotizing pneumonia and skin infection models. Mice infected with the USA300 strain developed a dominant anti-PVL response. The PVL subunits were therefore tested as vaccinogens against this isolate, and their vaccine efficacy correlated with both the route of vaccination and infection. These data suggest that PVL is a virulence factor in murine CA-MRSA infections.
Project description:The emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is a growing cause for concern. These strains are more virulent than health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) due to higher levels of toxin expression. In a previous study, we showed that the high-level expression of PBP2a, the alternative penicillin binding protein encoded by the mecA gene on type II staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) elements, reduced toxicity by interfering with the Agr quorum sensing system. This was not seen in strains carrying the CA-MRSA-associated type IV SCCmec element. These strains express significantly lower levels of PBP2a than the other MRSA type, which may explain their relatively high toxicity. We hypothesized that as oxacillin is known to increase mecA expression levels, it may be possible to attenuate the toxicity of CA-MRSA by using this antibiotic. Subinhibitory oxacillin concentrations induced PBP2a expression, repressed Agr activity, and, as a consequence, decreased phenol-soluble modulin (PSM) secretion by CA-MRSA strains. However, consistent with other studies, oxacillin also increased the expression levels of alpha-toxin and Panton-Valentine leucocidin (PVL). The net effect of these changes on the ability to lyse diverse cell types was tested, and we found that where the PSMs and alpha-toxin are important, oxacillin reduced overall lytic activity, but where PVL is important, it increased lytic activity, demonstrating the pleiotropic effect of oxacillin on toxin expression by CA-MRSA.
Project description:The molecular basis underlying the pathogenic success of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is not completely understood, but differential gene expression has been suggested to account at least in part for the high virulence of CA-MRSA strains. Here, we show that the agr gene regulatory system has a crucial role in the development of skin infections in the most prevalent CA-MRSA strain USA300. Importantly, our data indicate that this is due to discrepancies between the agr regulon of CA-MRSA and those of hospital-associated MRSA and laboratory strains. In particular, agr regulation in strain USA300 led to exceptionally strong expression of toxins and exoenzymes, upregulation of fibrinogen-binding proteins, increased capacity to bind fibrinogen, and increased expression of methicillin resistance genes. Our findings demonstrate that agr functionality is critical for CA-MRSA disease and indicate that an adaptation of the agr regulon contributed to the evolution of highly pathogenic CA-MRSA.
Project description:The role of the pore-forming Staphylococcus aureus toxin Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) in severe necrotizing diseases is debated due to conflicting data from epidemiological studies of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA) infections and various murine disease-models. In this study, we used neutrophils isolated from different species to evaluate the cytotoxic effect of PVL in comparison to other staphylococcal cytolytic components. Furthermore, to study the impact of PVL we expressed it heterologously in a non-virulent staphylococcal species and examined pvl-positive and pvl-negative clinical isolates as well as the strain USA300 and its pvl-negative mutant. We demonstrate that PVL induces rapid activation and cell death in human and rabbit neutrophils, but not in murine or simian cells. By contrast, the phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs), a newly identified group of cytolytic staphylococcal components, lack species-specificity. In general, after phagocytosis of bacteria different pvl-positive and pvl-negative staphylococcal strains, expressing a variety of other virulence factors (such as surface proteins), induced cell death in neutrophils, which is most likely associated with the physiological clearing function of these cells. However, the release of PVL by staphylococcal strains caused rapid and premature cell death, which is different from the physiological (and programmed) cell death of neutrophils following phagocytosis and degradation of virulent bacteria. Taken together, our results question the value of infection-models in mice and non-human primates to elucidate the impact of PVL. Our data clearly demonstrate that PVL acts differentially on neutrophils of various species and suggests that PVL has an important cytotoxic role in human neutrophils, which has major implications for the pathogenesis of CA-MRSA infections.
Project description:Epidemic community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is associated with more severe and acute forms of osteomyelitis than healthcare-associated (HA-) MRSA. Although S. aureus is now recognized as a facultative intracellular pathogen, the contribution of osteoblast invasion by CA-MRSA to the pathogenesis of osteomyelitis is unknown. Using an ex vivo model of intracellular infection of human osteoblasts, we demonstrated that CA-MRSA strains of diverse lineages share an enhanced ability to kill infected osteoblasts compared to HA-MRSA. Cytotoxicity comparisons of CA-MRSA isogenic deletion mutants revealed that phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs), a class of membrane-damaging exoproteins that are expressed at higher levels in CA-MRSA than in HA-MRSA, are involved in this osteoblast killing, whereas other major CA-MRSA virulence determinants, the Panton-Valentine leukocidin and alpha-toxin, are not involved. Similarly, functional agr and sarA regulators, which control the expression of PSMs and alpha-toxin, were required for the expression of the intracellular cytotoxic phenotype by CA-MRSA, whereas the saeRS regulator, which controls the expression of alpha-toxin but not PSMs, had no impact on cytotoxicity. Finally, PSM transcript levels determined by quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR were significantly higher in CA-MRSA than in HA-MRSA strains and associated with cell damage in MRSA-infected osteoblasts. These findings provide new insights into the pathogenesis of severe CA-MRSA osteomyelitis and unravel a novel virulence strategy of CA-MRSA, based on the invasion and subsequent killing of osteoblasts by PSMs acting as intracellular toxins.
Project description:Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is epidemic in the United States, even rivaling HIV/AIDS in its public health impact. The pandemic clone USA300, like other CA-MRSA strains, expresses Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), a pore-forming toxin that targets polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). PVL is thought to play a key role in the pathogenesis of necrotizing pneumonia, but data from rodent infection models are inconclusive. Rodent PMNs are less susceptible than human PMNs to PVL-induced cytolysis, whereas rabbit PMNs, like those of humans, are highly susceptible to PVL-induced cytolysis. This difference in target cell susceptibility could affect results of experimental models. Therefore, we developed a rabbit model of necrotizing pneumonia to compare the virulence of a USA300 wild-type strain with that of isogenic PVL-deletion mutant and -complemented strains. PVL enhanced the capacity of USA300 to cause severe lung necrosis, pulmonary edema, alveolar hemorrhage, hemoptysis, and death, hallmark clinical features of fatal human necrotizing pneumonia. Purified PVL instilled directly into the lung caused lung inflammation and injury by recruiting and lysing PMNs, which damage the lung by releasing cytotoxic granule contents. These findings provide insights into the mechanism of PVL-induced lung injury and inflammation and demonstrate the utility of the rabbit for studying PVL-mediated pathogenesis.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus is a highly virulent and successful pathogen that causes a diverse array of diseases. Recently, an increase of severe infections in healthy subjects has been observed, caused by community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA). The reason for enhanced CA-MRSA virulence is unclear; however, work suggests that it results from hypersecretion of agr-regulated toxins, including secreted proteases. In this study, we explore the contribution of exo-proteases to CA-MRSA pathogenesis using a mutant lacking all 10 enzymes. We show that they are required for growth in peptide-rich environments, serum, in the presence of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), and in human blood. We also reveal that extracellular proteases are important for resisting phagocytosis by human leukocytes. Using murine infection models, we reveal contrasting roles for the proteases in morbidity and mortality. Upon exo-protease deletion, we observed decreases in abscess formation, and impairment during organ invasion. In contrast, we observed hypervirulence of the protease-null strain in the context of mortality. This dichotomy is explained by proteomic analyses, which demonstrates exo-proteases to be key mediators of virulence-determinant stability. Specifically, increased abundance of both secreted (e.g. ?-toxin, Psms, LukAB, LukE, PVL, Sbi, ?-hemolysin) and surface-associated (e.g. ClfA+B, FnbA+B, IsdA, Spa) proteins was observed upon protease deletion. Collectively, our findings provide a unique insight into the progression of CA-MRSA infections, and the role of secreted proteolytic enzymes.
Project description:Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) USA300 has spread rapidly across North America, and CA-MRSA is also increasing in Australia. However, the dominant Australian CA-MRSA strain, ST93-IV [2B] appears distantly related to USA300 despite strikingly similar clinical and epidemiological profiles. Here, we compared the virulence of a recent Australian ST93 isolate (JKD6159) to other MRSA, including USA300, and found that JKD6159 was the most virulent in a mouse skin infection model. We fully sequenced the genome of JKD6159 and confirmed that JKD6159 is a distinct clone with 7616 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) distinguishing this strain from all other S. aureus genomes. Despite its high virulence there were surprisingly few virulence determinants. However, genes encoding ?-hemolysin, Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) and ?-type phenol soluble modulins were present. Genome comparisons revealed 32 additional CDS in JKD6159 but none appeared to encode new virulence factors, suggesting that this clone's enhanced pathogenicity could lie within subtler genome changes, such as SNPs within regulatory genes. To investigate the role of accessory genome elements in CA-MRSA epidemiology, we next sequenced three additional Australian non-ST93 CA-MRSA strains and compared them with JKD6159, 19 completed S. aureus genomes and 59 additional S. aureus genomes for which unassembled genome sequence data was publicly available (82 genomes in total). These comparisons showed that despite its distinctive genotype, JKD6159 and other CA-MRSA clones (including USA300) share a conserved repertoire of three notable accessory elements (SSCmecIV, PVL prophage, and pMW2). This study demonstrates that the genetically distinct ST93 CA-MRSA from Australia is highly virulent. Our comparisons of geographically and genetically diverse CA-MRSA genomes suggest that apparent convergent evolution in CA-MRSA may be better explained by the rapid dissemination of a highly conserved accessory genome from a common source.
Project description:The success of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) as pathogens is due to a combination of antibiotic resistance with high virulence. However, evolution of the exceptional virulence potential of CA-MRSA is not understood. Our previous study indicated that differential gene expression contributes substantially to this process. Thus, we here investigated the role of the pivotal virulence gene regulatory system agr in the most prevalent CA-MRSA strain USA300. Using a mouse subcutaneous infection model, we show that agr is essential for the development of CA-MRSA skin infections, the most frequent manifestation of disease caused by CA-MRSA. Furthermore, genome-wide analysis of gene expression revealed significant differences in agr-dependent virulence gene regulation between CA-MRSA, HA-MRSA, and laboratory strains. Our findings demonstrate that agr functionality is critical for CA-MRSA disease and indicate that an adaptation of the agr regulon to optimize expression of a broad set of virulence determinants may have contributed to the evolution of exceptionally pronounced virulence of CA-MRSA strains. Keywords: wild type vs mutant Wild type vs mutant agr strains.