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J Bacteriol. 1996 Feb; 178(3): 611–618.
PMCID: PMC177702

Identification and molecular characterization of a putative regulatory locus that affects autolysis in Staphylococcus aureus.


Previously in our laboratory, a PCR-based strategy was used to isolate potential sensor gene fragments from the Staphyloccus aureus genome. One DNA fragment was isolated that shared strong sequence similarity to genes encoding bacterial sensor proteins, indicating that it originated from within a potential staphylococcal sensor protein gene. In this study, the DNA surrounding the PCR product origin was cloned and sequenced. This analysis revealed the presence of two genes, termed lytS and lytR, whose deduced amino acid sequences were similar to those of members of the two-component regulatory system family of proteins. S. aureus cells containing an insertional disruption of lytS exhibited a marked propensity to form aggregates in liquid culture, suggesting that alterations in cell surface components exist in this strain. Transmission electron microscopic examination of these cells revealed that the cell surface was rough and diffuse and that a large proportion of the cell population had lysed. The lytS mutant also exhibited increased autolysis and an altered level of murein hydrolase activity produced compared with the parental strain, NCTC 8325-4. These data suggest that the lytS and lytR gene products control the rate of autolysis in S. aureus by affecting the intrinsic murein hydrolase activity associated with the cell.

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Selected References

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