The Agr quorum sensing system represses persister formation through regulation of phenol soluble modulins in Staphylococcus aureus

Tao Xu, Xu Yang Wang, Peng Cui, Yu Meng Zhang, Wen Hong Zhang, Ying Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus aureus has become an increasing threat to public health. While the Agr quorum sensing (QS) system is a master regulator of S. aureus virulence, its dysfunction has been frequently reported to promote bacteremia and mortality in clinical infections. Here we show that the Agr system is involved in persister formation in S. aureus. Mutation of either agrCA or agrD but not RNAIII resulted in increased persister formation of stationary phase cultures. RNA-seq analysis showed that in stationary phase AgrCA/AgrD and RNAIII mutants showed consistent up-regulation of virulence associated genes (lip and splE, etc.) and down-regulation of metabolism genes (bioA and nanK, etc.). Meanwhile, though knockout of agrCA or agrD strongly repressed expression of phenol soluble modulin encoding genes psmα1-4, psmβ1-2 and phenol soluble modulins (PSM) transporter encoding genes in the pmt operon, mutation of RNAIII enhanced expression of the genes. We further found that knockout of psmα1-4 or psmβ1-2 augmented persister formation and that co-overexpression of PSMαs and PSMβs reversed the effects of AgrCA mutation on persister formation. We also detected the effects on persister formation by mutations of metabolism genes (arcA, hutU, narG, nanK, etc.) that are potentially regulated by Agr system. It was found that deletion of the ManNAc kinase encoding gene nanK decreased persister formation. Taken together, these results shed new light on the PSM dependent regulatory role of Agr system in persister formation and may have implications for clinical treatment of MRSA persistent infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2189
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume8
Issue numberNOV
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 7 2017

Keywords

  • Agr
  • Antibiotic
  • Persister formation
  • Sialic metabolism
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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