[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The saePQRS system of Staphylococcus aureus controls the expression of major virulence factors and encodes a histidine kinase (SaeS), a response regulator (SaeR), a membrane protein (SaeQ), and a lipoprotein (SaeP). The widely used strain Newman is characterized by a single amino acid change in the sensory domain of SaeS (Pro18 in strain Newman [SaeS(P)], compared with Leu18 in other strains [SaeS(L)]). SaeS(P) determines activation of the class I sae target genes (coa, fnbA, eap, sib, efb, fib, sae), which are highly expressed in strain Newman. In contrast, class II target genes (hla, hlb, cap) are not sensitive to the SaeS polymorphism. The SaeS(L) allele (saeS(L)) is dominant over the SaeS(P) allele, as shown by single-copy integration of saePQRS(L) in strain Newman, which results in severe repression of class I target genes. The differential effect on target gene expression is explained by different requirements for SaeR phosphorylation. From an analysis of saeS deletion strains and strains with mutated SaeR phosphorylation sites, we concluded that a high level of SaeR phosphorylation is required for activation of class I target genes. However, a low level of SaeR phosphorylation, which can occur independent of SaeS, is sufficient to activate class II target genes. Using inducible saeRS constructs, we showed that the expression of both types of target genes is independent of the saeRS dosage and that the typical growth phase-dependent gene expression pattern is not driven by SaeRS.
Journal of bacteriology 11/2009; 192(3):613-23. · 3.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus reacts to changing environmental conditions such as heat, pH, and chemicals through global regulators such as the sae (S. aureus exoprotein expression) two-component signaling system. Subinhibitory concentrations of some antibiotics were shown to increase virulence factor expression. Here, we investigated the S. aureus stress response to sublethal concentrations of a commonly used biocide (Perform), by real-time quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR), promoter activity assay, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and a flow cytometric invasion assay. Perform, acting through the production of reactive oxygen species, generally downregulated expression of extracellular proteins in strains 6850, COL, ISP479C but upregulated these proteins in strain Newman. Upregulated proteins were sae dependent. The Perform component SDS, but not paraquat (another oxygen donor), mimicked the biocide effect. Eap (extracellular adherence protein) was most prominently augmented. Upregulation of eap and sae was confirmed by qRT-PCR. Promoter activity of sae P1 was increased by Perform and SDS. Both substances enhanced cellular invasiveness, by 2.5-fold and 3.2-fold, respectively. Increased invasiveness was dependent on Eap and the sae system, whereas agr, sarA, sigB, and fibronectin-binding proteins had no major effect in strain Newman. This unique response pattern was due to a point mutation in SaeS (the sensor histidine kinase), as demonstrated by allele swapping. Newman saePQRS(ISP479C) behaved like ISP479C, whereas saePQRS(Newman) rendered ISP479C equally responsive as Newman. Taken together, the findings indicate that a point mutation in SaeS of strain Newman was responsible for increased expression of Eap upon exposure to sublethal Perform and SDS concentrations, leading to increased Eap-dependent cellular invasiveness. This may be important for understanding the regulation of virulence in S. aureus.
Journal of bacteriology 09/2009; 191(23):7306-14. · 3.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The two-component system SaeRS of Staphylococcus aureus is closely involved in the regulation of major virulence factors. However, little is known about the signals leading to saeRS activation. A total of four overlapping transcripts (T1 to T4) from three different transcription starting points are expressed in the sae operon. We used a beta-galactosidase reporter assay to characterize the putative promoter regions within the saeRS upstream region. The main transcript T2 is probably generated by endoribonucleolytic processing of the T1 transcript. Only two distinct promoter elements (P1 and P3) could be detected within the saeRS upstream region. The P3 promoter, upstream of saeRS, generates the T3 transcript, includes a cis-acting enhancer element and is repressed by saeRS. The most distal P1 promoter is strongly autoregulated, activated by agr, and repressed by sigma factor B. In strain Newman a mutation within the histidine kinase SaeS leads to a constitutively activated sae system. Evaluation of different external signals revealed that the P1 promoter in strain ISP479R and strain UAMS-1 is inhibited by low pH and high NaCl concentrations but activated by hydrogen peroxide. The most prominent induction of P1 was observed at subinhibitory concentrations of alpha-defensins in various S. aureus strains, with the exception of strain ISP479R and strain COL. P1 was not activated by the antimicrobial peptides LL37 and daptomycin. In summary, the results indicate that the sensor molecule SaeS is activated by alteration within the membrane allowing the pathogen to react to phagocytosis related effector molecules.
Journal of bacteriology 06/2008; 190(10):3419-28. · 3.94 Impact Factor