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Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen causing diseases which range from minor skin infection to endocarditis and toxic shock syndrome. The pathogenesis of S. aureus is due primarily to the production of toxic exoproteins, whose synthesis is controlled by a global regulatory system, agr. We show here that agr is autoinduced by a proteinaceous factor produced and secreted by the bacteria and that it is inhibited by a peptide produced by an exoprotein-deficient S. aureus mutant strain. The inhibitor, RIP, competes with the activator, RAP, and may be a mutational derivative. Our results suggest two possible approaches, independent of antibiotics, to the control of S. aureus infections. RIP may prove useful as a direct inhibitor of virulence and RAP as a vaccine against the expression of agr-induced virulence factors; either could...
Plasmid pT181 DNA secondary structures have been analyzed in vitro by nuclease S1 digestion and in vivo by bromoacetaldehyde treatment. A cruciform structure occurring at the pT181 replication origin in vitro is greatly enhanced by the binding of the plasmid-encoded initiator protein RepC. In vivo a DNA secondary structure also existed in the replication origin. Its frequency of formation was correlated with efficiency of RepC utilization. These data suggest that cruciform extrusion at the origin is involved in initiation of pT181 rolling-circle replication. A neighboring DNA structure influences the conformation of the origin in vivo.
pT181 is a Staphylococcus aureus rolling circle plasmid that regulates its replication by controlling the synthesis of its dimeric initiator protein RepC/C and by inactivating the protein following its use in replication (A. Rasooly and R. P. Novick, Science 262:1048-1050, 1993). This inactivation consists of the addition of an oligonucleotide, representing several nucleotides immediately 3' to the initiation nick site, to the active site tyrosine of one of the two subunits, generating a heterodimer, RepC/C*. Previous results suggested that the inactive form was metabolically stable and was present at a much higher level than the active form (A. Rasooly and R. P. Novick, Science 262:1048-1050, 1993). In the present study we have measured total RepC antigen as a function of plasmid copy number and have analyzed the interaction of the tw...
Previous studies have shown that glycerol monolaurate (GML), a surfactant commonly used in a wide variety of food and cosmetic products, inhibits the production of a variety of exotoxins by group A streptococci and staphylococci. Given the highly lipophilic nature of the structure of GML, it is suspected that the surfactant exerts its toxin inhibition effects via interaction with the cell membrane. The present study attempted to characterize some of the potential targets of GML action using the model system of lymphocyte activation. Results from murine splenocytes show that GML stimulates proliferation at concentrations between 10(-5) and 5 micrograms/ml/5 x 10(5) splenocytes. At concentrations greater than 5 micrograms/ml, GML inhibited lymphocyte proliferation and blocked the proliferative effects of the lymphocyte mitogens phorbol m...
Some bacterial pathogens elaborate and secrete virulence factors in response to environmental signals, others in response to a specific host product, and still others in response to no discernible cue. In this study, we have demonstrated that the synthesis of Staphylococcus aureus virulence factors is controlled by a density-sensing system that utilizes an octapeptide produced by the organism itself. The octapeptide activates expression of the agr locus, a global regulator of the virulence response. This response involves the reciprocal regulation of genes encoding surface proteins and those encoding secreted virulence factors. As cells enter the postexponential phase, surface protein genes are repressed by agr and secretory protein genes are subsequently activated. The intracellular agr effector is a regulatory RNA, RNAIII, whose tran...
Glycerol monolaurate (GML) is a naturally occurring surfactant that has potential use as an additive to tampons and wound dressings to reduce the incidence of certain bacterial toxin-mediated illnesses. In vitro studies were undertaken to evaluate the effect of GML on the growth of and toxin production by potentially pathogenic bacteria. GML inhibited the growth of clinical isolates of group A, B, F, and G streptococci at concentrations of 10 to 20 micrograms/ml. Exotoxin production, including that of pyrogenic exotoxins and hemolysins, was reduced by concentrations of GML that were below those inhibitory for growth as well as growth inhibitory. The growth of Staphylococcus aureus strains from patients with toxic shock syndrome and scalded skin syndrome was inhibited or delayed in the presence of 100 to 300 micrograms of GML per ml. Gr...
A surprising example of interspecies competition is the production by certain bacteria of hydrogen peroxide at concentrations that are lethal for others. A case in point is the displacement of Staphylococcus aureus by Streptococcus pneumoniae in the nasopharynx, which is of considerable clinical significance. How it is accomplished, however, has been a great mystery, because H2O2 is a very well known disinfectant whose lethality is largely due to the production of hyperoxides through the abiological Fenton reaction. In this report, we have solved the mystery by showing that H2O2 at the concentrations typically produced by pneumococci kills lysogenic but not nonlysogenic staphylococci by inducing the SOS response. The SOS response, a stress response to DNA damage, not only invokes DNA repair mechanisms but also induces resident prophage...
Toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1) contains a long central alpha helix that forms the base of two grooves on opposite sides of the molecule. Previous studies indicated that residues 132, 135, and 140 along the back of the central alpha helix are important in the biological activities. We made mutations of additional central alpha-helix residues exposed along this groove on the back of TSST-1. The proteins were purified, shown not to have gross alteration in structure, and tested for both superantigenicity and ability to elicit lethal TSS, using the superantigenicity, likely to because of alteration in T-cell receptor binding. Mutants H135A, Q136A, and E132K/ Q136K lost the ability to induce lethal TSS. The mutant Q136A was most increasing because it was superantigenic, yet nonlethal.
The staphylococcal virulon is activated by the density-sensing agr system, which is autoinduced by a short peptide (autoinducing peptide [AIP]) processed from a propeptide encoded by agrD. A central segment of the agr locus, consisting of the C-terminal two-thirds of AgrB (the putative processing enzyme), AgrD, and the N-terminal half of AgrC (the receptor), shows striking interstrain variation. This finding has led to the division of Staphylococcus aureus isolates into three different agr specificity groups and to the division of non-aureus staphylococci into a number of others. The AIPs cross-inhibit the agr responses between groups. We have previously shown that most menstrual toxic shock strains belong to agr specificity group III but that no strong clinical identity has been associated with strains of the other two groups. In the ...
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